Russia says ceasefire in Syria’s Ghouta will be extended

Published March 16, 2018, 4:15 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By The Associated Press

MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the Russian military and the Syrian government are extending a cease-fire in Damascus’ rebel-held suburbs as long as it takes to allow all the civilians to leave the area.

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian civilians with their belongings, fleeing from fighting between the Syrian government forces and rebels, in Hamouria in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Thursday, March. 15, 2018. Thousands of civilians streamed out of Syria's besieged, opposition-held enclave of eastern Ghouta on Thursday, crossing on foot and in pick-up trucks and tractors to government-held territory near the capital, Damascus, according to footage on state-run Syrian television. (SANA via AP)
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian civilians with their belongings, fleeing from fighting between the Syrian government forces and rebels, in Hamouria in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Thursday, March. 15, 2018. (SANA via AP)

Lavrov spoke in Kazakhstan on Friday, saying the cease-fire will be extended “until all (civilians) leave” the enclave known as eastern Ghouta.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that 2,000 people had exited the rebel-held suburbs by early morning.

Thursday saw the largest single-day exodus of civilians in Syria’s civil war. Tens of thousands emerged from Hamouria and other opposition towns to escape the onslaught.

The civilians were fleeing as Syrian government troops, backed by Russian aircraft, pushed further into eastern Ghouta.

Elsehwere, Turkish forces are pushing their way into the northern Kurdish-held town of Afrin.

 
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