LONDON — On June 18, Western governments began to warn their nationals of an
impending collapse in Syria. The British Foreign Office urged its nationals
to leave Syria immediately while foreign carriers were still operating.
Western diplomatic sources said Assad, despite significant help from
Iran, has failed to quell the revolt in Syria. They said the failure could
bolster the opposition and spark a mutiny among the non-Alawites in the
"Over the last two weeks, Assad has used just about all of his force to
stop the protests and has clearly failed," a Western diplomat said. "The
next step could be a slide into civil war that would pit Alawites against
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The Western assessment has been shared by Syria's southern neighbor
Israel. On June 20, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he did not
expect Assad, whose regime has killed 1,400 people, to last for more than six
months, Middle East Newsline reported.
"British nationals should leave now by commercial means whilst these are
still operating," the Foreign Office said. "Those who choose to remain in
Syria, or to visit against our advice, should
be aware that it is highly unlikely that the British embassy in Damascus
would be able to provide a normal consular service in the event of a further
breakdown in law and order and increased violent civil disorder."
The Foreign Office statement marked the first by a NATO government that
warned of a collapse in Syria. Most Western governments have urged their
nationals to demonstrate caution in Syria amid the Assad crackdown on the
"Evacuation options would be limited because of likely communication and
travel restrictions," the Foreign Office said.