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Russian military says helps evacuate 13 civilians from Syria's Ghouta

A man stands on the rubble of a damaged building at the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian military said late on Tuesday that it had helped evacuate 13 civilians from Syria’s eastern Ghouta by putting them on returning trucks that had brought aid to the rebel-held area near Damascus.

Aid trucks reached Syria’s eastern Ghouta region on Monday for the first time since the start of one of the war’s deadliest assaults, but the government stripped some medical supplies from the convoy and pressed on with its air and ground assault.

The Russian military said in a statement it had used drones to monitor the convoy’s progress and successfully head off what it called rebel provocations.

“We managed to evacuate 13 civilians, including five children, with the returning convoy,” the military said.

“We were also ready to evacuate about 1,000 sick and wounded people, but the rebels did not give us the opportunity.”

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Maria Kiselyova