Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is urging Canadians in Syria to leave the violence-ridden country. Speaking in Ottawa on Thursday, Baird told reporters that Arab League sanctions will soon restrict commercial air travel out of the country. The government estimates there are 5,000 Canadians in Syria. “It’s time for Canadians to leave and to leave now,” Baird said. As well, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency are expediting the visa application process for the family members of Canadian citizens who wish to leave, the CBC reported. The Foreign Affairs Department also has extra staff working the phones to handle increased call volumes and help register Canadians in Syria with the government. Roughly 1,500 are registered so far, the CBC reports. Since the uprising in Syria began nine months ago, the UN estimated more than 5,000 people have been killed as the government of Bashar al-Assad cracks down on civilian protesters. Violence has been escalating recently as defecting soldiers have been taking up arms against Assad’s security forces.