19 Jun 2011

Britons urged to leave Syria

6:00 am on 19 June 2011

Britons have been urged to leave Syria immediately as the situation there continues to deteriorate.

The British Foreign Office says they should use "commercial means" to leave while such means are still available.

It says its embassy in Damascus is unlikely to be able to help them in the event of a further deterioration.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad has cracked down hard on protesters and anti-government activists since unrest broke out in March.

Rights groups say 1300 civilians and 300 security personnel have been killed, and thousands of protesters detained.

Latest reports say army tanks have entered a village bordering Turkey where 10,000 people have sought refuge.

The head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says heavy gunfire broke out as the troops entered the village, a few kilometres north of the flashpoint town of Jisr al-Shughur.