Syrian regime allows citizens abroad to renew passports

Citizens living outside Syria can now renew their travel documents without facing a security check.

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DAMASCUS // Syrian authorities will allow citizens abroad, including refugees who fled the war, to obtain passports without an intelligence service review for the first time, Syria’s Al Watan newspaper said on Sunday.

The daily, which is close to the government, said the move would “create an appropriate climate” for consultations in Geneva next month on the possibility of renewed peace talks.

It also noted that the fees for the new procedures — which are being doubled — would be “an important source of foreign exchange”.

The newspaper said the new measures were detailed in a document sent on Thursday to Syrian embassies around the world.

This authorised embassies “to issue or renew passports for Syrians abroad without having to go through the department of emigration and passports in Damascus”, Al Watan reported.

It said this meant applications would no longer be subject to an intelligence services review as was often the case in the past.

Passports will be issued to Syrians “even if they left in an illegal manner or they hold non-official passports or travel documents”, the document added.

Many of the nearly four million Syrians who have fled their country’s conflict left illegally, fearing arrest or conscription if they passed through an official crossing.

* Agence France-Presse