Serbia will not close diplomatic missions in crisis zones

BELGRADE -- Serbia will not close its diplomatic and consular offices in crisis areas as long as there are conditions to provide consular protection for Serbian citizens.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the announcement on Wednesday, adding that Serbian diplomats did not leave Syria, Iraq and Libya despite the risks they are facing.

The Serbian embassy in Damascus employs a chargé d'affaires and five local civil servants who hold Syrian citizenship. In 2012, the rest of the diplomatic staff was transferred to Beirut for security reasons, and are now following the developments in Syria from a safe distance, which is the usual practice in most countries.

Last week, the embassy received a threatening letter addressed to the local Syrian staff which bore the logo of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Upon receiving the letter, the embassy immediately notified the security services, the Foreign Ministry said.

Quoting diplomatic sources, Belgrade papers reported on Tuesday that the Islamic State terrorists threatened to kill the staff of the Serbian embassy in Damascus unless they left the building within seven days.