The Latest: Russia calls for evacuation from Damascus suburb

AP News
Posted: Jan 29, 2018 8:44 AM
The Latest: Russia calls for evacuation from Damascus suburb

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

3:45 p.m.

Russia is calling on the Syrian government to allow a medical evacuation from a rebel-held suburb of the capital, Damascus.

A cease-fire deal to halt the fighting in the besieged suburb of eastern Ghouta appeared to have crumbled over the weekend before it even began. The agreement was reached in Vienna between the Syrian opposition and Russia.

Russia's Defense Ministry on Monday called on the Syrian government to hold talks with the rebels in eastern Ghouta to arrange for the medical evacuation.

It said: "A cessation of hostilities is the only chance and the only condition for political settlement in eastern Ghouta and in Syria on the whole."

Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad, and has been waging a military campaign on behalf of his forces since 2015.


1 p.m.

Turkish officials say authorities have detained 311 people for allegedly engaging in "terrorist propaganda" through social media postings critical of Turkey's military offensive into the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

An Interior Ministry statement on Monday says the suspects, who are accused of supporting the Syrian Kurdish militia, were detained in the past week. It didn't provide further details.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, an extension of its outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting within Turkey and has branded the Syrian group as a terrorist organization. Ankara launched a military operation codenamed Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear YPG fighters from Afrin.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has criticized the detentions as the Turkish government's "witch hunt against critics."


12:40 p.m.

Syria activists and rescue workers say at least 11 people have been killed and a hospital was badly damaged and rendered unusable in airstrikes on the opposition-held northern province of Idlib.

The local White Helmets rescuers say the airstrikes on Monday hit Idlib's largest vegetable market in the town of Saraqeb where 11 people were killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the attack and said a local hospital was also hit, putting it out of service. The activist Idlib Media center posted photographs of the exterior of the damaged building.

The violence has overshadowed a peace conference hosted by Russia between the Syrian government and the opposition, which is scheduled to open on Monday.

A day earlier, at least 17 civilians were killed in airstrikes in Idlib.