The Latest: UN envoy encouraged Russia backs Geneva process

The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria says he is encouraged that Russia continues to support the so-called Geneva process for a political resolution in Syria despite tensions over the Western missile strike.

U.N. Security Council ambassadors are to hold a retreat this weekend in Sweden, where the council’s failure to end the seven-year Syrian conflict is expected to be a key issue.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants to relaunch the Geneva political process aimed at restoring peace to the country.

Envoy Staffan de Mistura met Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and said: “I am very pleased … that in spite of what happened last week, and it is still very recent, that there is a strong commitment from the Russian Federation to push forth the political process.”

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1:20 p.m.

Syrian state media says rebels have started to evacuate three towns in the eastern Qalamoun region in the Damascus countryside.

Al-Ikhbariya TV says several buses left the towns of Ruhaiba, Jayroud, and al-Nasriya carrying hundreds of rebels and their families to opposition territory in north Syria.

The station says there could be 3,200 rebels leaving three towns on Saturday. It says the evacuations will continue for three days.

Syrian government forces will take over the towns once the departures are complete.

The evacuations are the latest in a string of population transfers around the Syrian capital that have displaced more than 60,000 people as the government reconsolidates control.

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