Russia extends pause in Syria rebel enclave outside Damascus

11
Russia extends pause in Syria rebel enclave outside Damascus
FILE - This Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Syrian President Bashar Assad watching troops march at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria. In comments published on the official presidency Telegram channel Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Assad said his country's war on terrorism will continue as long as there is "a single terrorist" on Syrian territories. Russia and Iran have been strong backers of Assad, helping him in his bid to regain control of territories. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — 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.