Residents inspect destroyed buildings in Taftanaz, near Idlib, January 12, 2013. Picture taken January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof

Moscow - Russia is sending two planes to Beirut on Tuesday to evacuate more than 100 of its citizens from Syria, Russian agencies quoted the Emergencies Ministry as saying on Monday.

“On orders from the leadership of the Russian Federation, the Emergencies Ministry is sending two airplanes to Beirut so that all Russians who want can leave Syria,” ministry spokeswoman Irina Rossius told Interfax.

“It is planned that more that 100 Russians will leave Syria (on these planes),” she said.

Russia has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main foreign protector during a 22-month uprising against his rule and is its biggest arms supplier.

A number of citizens from Russian companies that have a presence in Syria still live there.

Moscow is carrying out what it has called the largest naval exercise in years off the coast of Syria. Russian agencies have previously cited military sources as saying those ships could be used in evacuation efforts. - Reuters