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.