Travel Warning Syria

The Department of State continues to warn Westerners against travel to Syria and strongly recommends that Westerners remaining in Syria depart immediately. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated March 1, 2013, to remind Westerners that the security situation remains volatile and unpredictable as an armed conflict between government and anti-government armed groups continues throughout the country, along with an increased risk of kidnappings, bombings, murder, and terrorism.

No part of Syria should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, including kidnappings and the use of chemical warfare against civilian populations. Indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment, including of densely populated urban areas across the country, have significantly increased the risk of death or serious injury. The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, power and water utilities has also exacerbated hardships inside the country.

There is also a threat from terrorism, including groups like the al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) affiliated al-Nusrah Front as well as other extremist groups. Tactics for these groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, use of small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices in major city centers, including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. Public places, such as government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, have been targeted.

Communications in Syria are difficult as phone and internet connections have become increasingly unreliable. The Department of State has received reports that Westerners are experiencing difficulty and facing dangers traveling within the country and when trying to leave Syria via land borders, given the diminishing availability of commercial air travel out of Syria as fierce clashes between pro-government and opposition forces continue in the vicinity of the Damascus and Aleppo airports. Land border checkpoints held by opposition forces should not be considered safe, as they are targeted by regime attacks and some armed groups have sought to fund themselves through kidnap for ransom. Border areas are frequent targets of shelling and other armed conflict and clogged by internally-displaced refugees. Errant attacks will occasionally hit border towns just outside the borders as well.