Russia claims that 52 civilians have escaped Syrian suburb
BYThe Associated Press
Smoke billows after a Syrian government bombardment on the rebel-controlled town of Kafr Batna, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus, on Sunday.

MOSCOW — The Russian military says more than 50 civilians have evacuated from besieged eastern Ghouta suburbs of Syria's capital Damascus.

"Today, 52 civilians, including 26 children, were brought from eastern Ghouta," said Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin of the Russian center for reconciliation of Syria's warring parties, on Sunday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says an indiscriminate campaign of government and Russian air strikes and shelling has killed some 1,100 civilians in rebel-held eastern Ghouta over the past three weeks.

The U.N. estimates there are 400,000 civilians trapped in the siege.

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Russia and the Syrian government have accused rebels of blocking civilians from fleeing the violence.

Zolotukhin said Sunday that the evacuees will receive "all necessary assistance" within two days, according to Russian news agencies.

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