South African embassy staff in Damascus have fled Syria due to security concerns, the department of international relations said on Sunday.
"What I can confirm to you is that all our embassy staff in Damascus have been urged to move to neighbouring countries because of the security situation in Damascus," spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said.
SABC radio news reported earlier that Shaune Byneveldt, ambassador to Syria, had arrived back in South Africa as fighting intensified in the capital.
On Saturday AFP reported that heavy clashes raged between Syrian troops and rebels, with at least 24 people killed nationwide, as the clock ticked down on a 30-day "final" extension of a troubled UN observer mission.
The violence came a day after the Security Council voted unanimously to grant a "final" 30-day extension to the UN Supervision Mission for Syria charged with overseeing a tattered peace plan.