BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments related to Syria (all times local):
Syrian state media and a rebel spokesman say a deal has been reached to evacuate 7,500 gunmen and their families from a town in eastern Ghouta to an opposition-held province in northern Syria.
The deal would be the first instance of fighters evacuating the rebel-held region east of Damascus which has been under a ferocious government air and ground assault for a month.
The state-run Addounia TV says 1,500 gunmen and 6000 of their relatives would be evacuated Thursday from the town of Harasta would be evacuated in two batches to Idlib.
Monther Fares, a spokesman for the powerful Ahrar al-Sham group, said the deal gives security guarantees for those who decide to stay in the town after the government takes over.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is condemning the bombing of rebel-held eastern Ghouta and also calling the situation in the northern Syrian district of Afrin unacceptable.
Merkel said in a speech to the German parliament Wednesday that it's important to address the reasons why people flee their countries and pointed to the situation in Syria.
She said that "for all of Turkey's justified security interests, what is going on in Afrin is unacceptable, with thousands of civilians being persecuted, dying or having to flee."
The U.N. children's agency said Tuesday some 100,000 people were trapped in rural areas of Afrin and in need of humanitarian aid after Turkish and allied Syrian forces drove out a Syrian Kurdish militia there
Syrian rescuers and a war monitor say an airstrike in the rebel-held province of Idlib in northwestern Syria has killed at least 13 people, most of them children.
The Syrian Civil Defense in Idlib says the airstrike hit children running from their school in Kfar Bateekh village because of the jets flying overhead, killing 11 of them. The rescuers said Russian jets were behind the attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrike killed at least eight children, adding that the number of those killed is likely to rise as rescuers are still looking for survivors under the rubble. The Observatory said it was not immediately clear who was behind the strikes.
Idlib is the largest area still controlled by insurgents in Syria.
Syria state media say the death toll from a rebel mortar assault on a market in Damascus has risen to 38, making it one of the deadliest attacks in the capital since the start of the seven-year civil war.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Wednesday put the death toll from the attack in Kashkol neighborhood even higher, at 43, including 11 pro-government fighters.
The government blamed the attack on rebels in the eastern suburbs, where Syrian troops backed by Russian warplanes have been waging a major offensive over the past month.
Videos of the aftermath of the attack posted online showed scenes of chaos, with people screaming and bodies and mannequins strewn across the ground.