The Latest: Activists: Syrian strikes target rebel enclave

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The Latest: Activists: Syrian strikes target rebel enclave
This photo released Tuesday, March 13, 2018, by the Syrian Civil Defense group known as the White Helmets, shows members of the White Hemets removing a body after airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria. The Syrian government and the Russian military have set up a corridor outside eastern Ghouta to arrange the evacuation from the area which is home to some 400,000 people. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria as it marks seven years of war this week (all times local):

10:35 a.m.

Syrian activists and monitoring groups say government and Russian forces are blanketing the besieged rebel-held eastern Ghouta region with airstrikes and rocket fire.

Thursday’s bombings come as Syria marks the seventh anniversary of the popular uprising that sparked the country’s vicious civil war.

The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, says its first responders are not able to reach the wounded in towns in rebel-held eastern Ghouta because of the intensity of the assault.

It says one of its rescue workers was killed in an airstrike in Hazeh on Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says a column of civilians trying to flee government advances in Hamouria were targeted with shelling early in the day that wounded several people.

It said 26 people were killed in Hamouria on Wednesday.

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10:30 a.m.

The Russian military says it has extended a “humanitarian pause” in fighting for two days in a part of Syria’s embattled eastern Ghouta enclave, just outside of Damascus.

The Russian Defense Ministry says the pause on Thursday and Friday is focused on the town of Douma. It claims the pause has allowed growing numbers of civilians to reach safety.

Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying 131 people left the area through the humanitarian corridor on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin says some 100 people are expected to be evacuated on Thursday.

Russia ordered the daily humanitarian pauses late last month, but few civilians have left. And activists said continued government shelling and airstrikes killed at least 20 civilians on Wednesday eastern Ghouta.