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The Latest: Aid convoy enters Syria’s eastern Ghouta

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

11:20 a.m.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says a joint convoy bringing aid to thousands of displaced Syrian families has entered the besieged rebel-held region of eastern Ghouta just outside of Damascus.

It says the joint convoy organized with the United Nations and the Syria Red Crescent Society consists of 25 trucks.

The ICRC said in a Tweet on Thursday that “this is just a little of what these families need.”

The convoy is headed for the town of Douma, the largest and most populated in eastern Ghouta, according to Douma-based media activist Youssef Boustani.

Previous aid deliveries last week were mired in violence that disrupted its distribution, with shells slamming in the town as the aid workers were inside.

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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.

Source: Washington Post

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