By Noor Toorani
TWO Bahraini students are defying a government warning to leave Syria – so they can finish their studies.
Hashim Haidar and Abdulaziz Al Fares are currently living in Damascus.
They were contacted by diplomats after the Foreign Ministry advised Bahrainis to leave Syria on Saturday due to safety concerns.
However, they have told the Bahrain Embassy in Syria that they plan to finish their studies.
“We do not have any residents in Syria at the moment as most Bahrainis in Syria are visitors,” adviser at the Bahrain Embassy in Damascus, Abdulhussain Kadhem, told the GDN yesterday.
“The only people living in Damascus are two students, Hashim Haidar and Abdulaziz Al Fares, who insist on staying here to complete their work.
“I have been in personal contact with them and they understand the situation, but they want to finish their exams before flying out to Bahrain. I respect their choice and we are in constant touch with them to ensure their safety and if they require anything.”
The GDN was yesterday unable to contact the students, who attend different universities in Damascus.
However, Mr Kadhem insisted the situation in Damascus was safe – despite turmoil in other parts of the country.
But he urged anyone visiting Syria or already there to get in touch with the embassy.
“The situation in Damascus at the moment is not life threatening or dangerous, but the directives issued are a precautionary measure,” he said.
“This way we can contact all visitors to Syria and locate their whereabouts and note down their contact numbers just in case of an emergency.
“Since most Bahrainis here are visitors, usually staying for a few days to perform religious pilgrimages, we had no way of contacting them.
“Now, with these directives all Bahrainis flying into Syria have to contact us immediately so we know how many Bahrainis are here and in case something happens we can easily locate and extract them.”
Mr Kadhem said Bahrainis in Syria, or those with relatives visiting the country, could contact the Bahrain Embassy in Damascus on +963 116132314, +963 116132315 or +963 932444499.
The Foreign Ministry warning against travel to Syria coincided with the Arab League on Sunday approving sanctions against the regime of President Bashar Al Assad.
These include a travel ban on senior Syrian officials, the freezing of government assets, halting trade with Syria’s central bank and stopping Arab investment.
The vote took place after Syria ignored deadlines imposed by the Arab League to implement an Arab peace plan that included withdrawing troops from residential areas, starting talks with the opposition and sending Arab monitors into Syria after an eight-month crackdown on protests.
Source: Gulf Daily News