Russia may soon begin evacuating its citizens from Syria  as fighting in Damascus escalates. The Kremlin was sending two planes to Beirut on Tuesday to be on hand to air lift more than 100 Russians still in Syria to safety as part of a wider plan to evacuate thousands of citizens if necessary.It is the first time Russia has launched an evacuation operation since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in March 2011.As Syria has become increasingly isolated in international affairs, Russia has stood by its Soviet-era ally. It has used its veto powers in the United Nations Security Council to block three resolutions condemning the violence and has continued to supply the regime with armaments.The move may be a sign that there are increasing doubts over Assad and fears over the safety of Russian citizens. On Saturday, shells killed three women when they struck the Russian embassy in Damascus. Since last month, Russian officials have been publicly questioning whether Assad will hold on to power  although Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied they were looking for a replacement .