Putin says Russia evacuated civilian group from Syria's Ghouta

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a gala show, marking the Defender of the Fatherland Day, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Kadobnov/Pool

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia had managed to evacuate “quite a big group” of civilians from Syria’s rebel-held eastern Ghouta.

Putin, speaking at a news conference alongside Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had helped broker the evacuation.

Putin did not say when the civilians had managed to leave.

He told the same news conference that rebel groups in eastern Ghouta were using it as a base to shell other areas.

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn