Malaysians to evacuate Syria

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia will immediately evacuate its nationals from strife-torn Syria and shut its mission there in response to the worsening security situation.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman had sought Najib's approval to evacuate Malaysians as violence escalated across Syria.

"In this regard, I feel our embassy in Syria ought to be closed immediately following the latest developments there," the prime minister was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency late Saturday.

There are about 140 Malaysians in Syria, mainly students, expatriates and five diplomats including the ambassador, who is to return home.

Heavy clashes raged between Syrian troops and rebels on Saturday, with at least 90 people killed nationwide amid a surge in fighting between the army and anti-government rebels.

More than 17,000 people have died since the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March last year, according to Red Cross officials.

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