The Latest: France, UN leaders worried about Syria’s Ghouta

BEIRUT (AP) — The latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

1:50 a.m.

The office of French President Emmanuel Macron says that he and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are extremely worried about the continued violence in Syria’s eastern Ghouta despite a cease-fire resolution.

Macron’s office said in a statement that he and Guterres spoke Saturday and expressed their “grave concern” and called for a full implementation of the resolution.

The statement says U.N. convoys should be delivering aid to hard-hit populations in the region.

Macron will discuss the cease-fire Sunday with the president of Iran, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad. France has also tried in recent days to pressure Russia to use its influence with Assad to freeze government bombings.


4:20 p.m.

Turkey’s prime minister says Turkish troops have captured a strategic village in the Kurdish-held enclave in northwestern Syria, tightening the grip on the area in the sixth week of its offensive on the area.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says Turkish soldiers cleared Rajo in Afrin district of “terrorists.” He says the Kurdish fighters have been pushed back from the border with Turkey and are now surrounded in Afrin.

Yildirim was speaking at a rally in the central Konya province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fierce clashes were still being reported in Rajo.

If confirmed, Rajo would be the largest center in Afrin to be captured since the Turkish offensive began on Jan.20.

Turkey says it wants to oust the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, from Afrin. It considers the group an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.


3:15 p.m.

Syrian activists and rescuers say at least six civilians have been killed in the ongoing bombing of eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus, despite a Russia-ordered brief daily humanitarian pause.

Syrian State TV meanwhile said Saturday that two children managed to escape from the region under gunfire from the rebels, who control eastern Ghouta.

Syrian government and Russian officials accuse the rebels of firing at a corridor set up for evacuation, preventing civilians from leaving.

The corridor, manned by Russia military police and Syrian troops, has since Tuesday been set to open for five hours daily. An elderly Pakistani couple has managed to leave after negotiations.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Syrian Civil Defense said six civilians were killed Saturday in government bombings in eastern Ghouta.

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