The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Syria. British nationals in Syria should leave now by any practical means. The FCO is not able to provide consular services, and won’t be able to help your evacuation from the country.
In June 2013, the Syrian government issued a new law stating that individuals who enter Syrian territories illegally will be punished by a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years and/or a fine of 5 to 10 million Syrian pounds.
There is widespread fighting throughout Syria, including in Damascus and its suburbs. Full scale military operations involving the use of small arms, tanks, artillery and aircraft are ongoing. In Aleppo and elsewhere, the regime has been undertaking an indiscriminate campaign of aerial bombardment since mid-December 2013, using so called ‘barrel’ bombs – huge containers packed with explosives and shards of metal dropped by helicopter – against largely civilian targets. The situation remains extremely volatile.
On 21 August 2013, a conventional and chemical weapons attack took place in the suburbs of Damascus. There have been a number of recent media reports alleging further use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Fighting has caused the temporary suspension of commercial flights, closed roads, impeded access to land border crossing points and led to the closure of some border crossings.
There is a high threat from terrorism. There are continued attacks across Syria including in major cities, leaving large numbers of people dead or injured.
There is a very high threat of kidnapping throughout Syria. There have been a number of kidnappings, including of British nationals and other Westerners. There has been an increase in the number of reported kidnaps of both NGO workers and journalists in the last few months. If you travel to Syria to fight, and your activities amount to offences against UK terrorism legislation, you could be prosecuted on return to the UK.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, there has been a significant increase in the mass execution and unlawful killing of civilians and detainees in northern Syria in recent weeks.
If you choose to travel to Syria against FCO advice, you should make sure you and your family have valid exit stamps on your travel documents if you need one and take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance.
As a result of the ongoing political and security instability and the implementation of sanctions against some Syrian institutions, financial transactions have become significantly more difficult. See Money.