A second batch of Palestinians stranded aboard a Cypriot ferry since their expulsion from Libya boarded a Syrian navy ship early today to begin their trip to Syria.
The ship Al Assad docked at Larnaca at 2:30 a.m. alongside the Countess M, which had carried more than 650 Palestinians--332 of them children under the age of 10--since their expulsion from Libya on Oct. 13.
Palestinians aboard Countess M, jubilant at the new ship’s arrival, welcomed it with music and songs. They also chanted slogans praising Syrian President Hafez Assad.
Nearly an hour after the Syrian ship’s arrival, the Palestinians began to make their way aboard in small groups.
The Palestinians were among about 30,000 ordered to leave Libya in August to show Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadafi’s opposition to peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. At least 1,500 have been expelled since then.
A separate group of 271 Palestinians from the Countess M set sail Sunday on another Syrian ship, the Fayza Express, bound for Syria.
The Fayza Express, sent by the Syrian government, headed for Latakia, Syria, 125 miles northeast of the Cypriot port of Larnaca. It was expected to arrive in Syria later today.
The Countess M initially tried to go to Syria, but Damascus refused to let it in. Under diplomatic pressure, Syria agreed to let in passengers carrying Syrian passports or travel documents.