DFA advises Pinoys in Syria to stay safe

FILIPINOS in Syria were advised to exercise caution and be vigilant as the Syrian Army plans to eject Islamic militants from Damascus.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Office of Public Diplomacy Acting Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato said “we continue to monitor the situation in Damascus and have alerted our kababayans there to exercise caution and be vigilant ahead of plans of the Syrian Army to eject Islamic militants from their last stronghold in the capital.”

The Philippine Embassy in Damascus, which is now being headed by Chargé d’Affaires Alex Lamadrid, advised members of the Filipino Community to remain indoors and avoid unnecessary travel due to the impending offensive against extremists. The Islamic militants seized the Yarmouk refugee camp in the southern part of Damascus in 2015.

The advisory is also intended to ensure the safety and security of the estimated 1,000 Filipinos still in Syria given the almost daily shellings and airstrikes in various parts of the country

Yarmouk is located just 12 kilometers from the Embassy.

Last April 13, missile attacks targeted at least three military installations in Damascus and several other areas in Syria.

The Filipino community was issued advisories as early as April 8 in anticipation of possible military action against Syria following the alleged chemical attack in Douma and the mortar shelling of certain parts of Damascus in recent weeks.

Syria has remained under crisis alert level 4 since 2011 when the civil war erupted.

A labor deployment ban also remains in place.

Before the civil war, there were 17,000 Filipinos in Syria.