Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Syria: Updated Travel Warning Urges US Citizens Against Travel to Syria, Those Still in Syria Urged to Depart ASAP

Effective May 5, 2014, the US Department of State continues to warn US citizens against travel to Syria and strongly recommends that US citizens remaining in Syria to depart immediately.   

US citizens are reminded that the security situation remains volatile and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country, along with an increased risk of kidnappings, bombings, murder, and terrorism.   

No part of Syria should be considered safe from violence. The potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, including kidnappings and the use of chemical warfare against civilian populations.  

Indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment, including of densely populated urban areas across the country, have significantly raised the risk of death or serious injury.  The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, power and water utilities has also increased hardships inside the country.

There is a threat from terrorism, including groups linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) affiliated with the al-Nusrah Front as well as other extremist groups.  Tactics for these groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, use of small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices in major city centers, including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr.  Public places, such as government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, have been targeted.


Communications in Syria are difficult as phone and internet connections have become increasingly unreliable. The Department of State has received reports that US citizens are experiencing difficulty and facing dangers traveling within the country and when trying to leave Syria via land borders, given the diminishing availability of commercial air travel out of Syria as fierce clashes between pro-government and opposition forces continue in the vicinity of the Damascus and Aleppo airports.  

Land border checkpoints held by opposition forces should not be considered safe, as they are targeted by regime attacks and some armed groups have sought to fund themselves through kidnappings for ransom.  Border areas are frequent targets of shelling and other armed conflict and are crowded because of internally-displaced refugees. Errant attacks will occasionally hit border towns just outside the borders as well.

The US Embassy in Damascus suspended its operations in February 2012 and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Syria. 

The Government of the Czech Republic, acting through its Embassy in Damascus, serves as Protecting Power for US interests in Syria.  The range of consular services the Czech Republic provides to US citizens is extremely limited, and those services, including for US passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, may require significantly more processing time than at US embassies or consulates outside of Syria.  

U.S. citizens in Syria who seek consular services should leave the country and contact a US embassy or consulate in a neighboring country if at all possible.  US citizens in Syria who seek consular  services in Syria may contact the US Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Damascus at USISdamascus@embassy.mzv.cz.

US citizens in Syria who are in need of emergency assistance in Syria, and are unable to reach the US Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic or must make contact outside business hours, should contact:


US Embassy in Amman, Jordan:

            Telephone: +962 (6) 590-6950 (Daily 2-3:30 local time)
            Emergencies: +962 (6) 590-6500
            E-mail: Amman-ACS@state.gov

If you seek information about US citizens' services in Syria from the Office of Overseas Citizens' Services in Washington, please e-mail:  SyriaEmergencyUSC@state.gov.

The Department of State urges those US citizens who decide to remain in Syria despite this Travel Warning to provide their current contact information and next-of-kin information through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

For information on "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis," please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Emergencies and Crisis link at http://www.travel.state.gov.  

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 0800 hours to 2000 hours EST, Monday through Friday (except US federal holidays).

For additional information, US citizens should consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Syria.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.