Two planeloads of Russian nationals escaping the conflict in Syria have landed in Moscow. The aircraft left Beirut earlier in the evening on Tuesday.
But this is not the start of a mass evacuation, according to officials. Russia has been President Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest ally during the 22-month uprising against his rule. But an envoy said in December that Assad could be defeated by the rebels, and that Moscow was preparing evacuation plans just in case.
It is claimed footage uploaded to the internet shows government air strikes on the city of Homs.
Aircraft are seen approaching what the narrator says is the Jobar district of the city. Explosions can be heard shortly afterards.
It is claimed other footage shows scenes of destruction and rubble-strewn streets in Hamouriyah, a town nine kilometres from the capital, Damascus.