The Latest: Russia: 1,000 civilians left Syria rebel enclave

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The Latest: Russia: 1,000 civilians left Syria rebel enclave
This photo released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows members of the White Helmets carrying a man who was wounded after airstrikes and shelling hit in Arbeen, in the eastern Ghouta region near Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, March. 20, 2018. The U.N. refugee agency says 45,000 Syrians have left their homes in the besieged region of eastern Ghouta in recent days, amid a Syrian government-led offensive against the rebel-held area. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

10:50 a.m.

The Russian military says more than 1,000 civilians have left the rebel-held eastern suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus, this morning.

Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin told Russian news agencies in Syria that the civilians left through the Wafideen crossing on Thursday morning.

A spokesman for a rebel faction in the region, known as eastern Ghouta, said earlier that the rebels and their families were expected to leave a besieged town in an evacuation deal that will see the town handed over to the government following years of siege and bombardment.

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10 a.m.

Syrian rebels and their families are expected to leave a besieged town in the eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, in an evacuation deal that will see the town handed over to the government following years of bombardment.

Monther Fares, a spokesman for the rebel faction Ahrar al-Sham, says his group’s fighters are preparing to leave. He says fighters are waiting for buses to arrive to take them and their families to other rebel-held areas in north Syria.

The government-controlled Military Media Center says 1,500 rebels and 6,000 civilians will leave Harasta on Thursday.

The deal is modeled after others that have had rebels surrender swaths of territory around the capital and other major cities to the government. The U.N. and human rights groups have condemned such arrangements as “forced displacement.”