Activists: Hours before cease-fire, 37 killed in Syrian town

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian government soldiers, helping civilians who fled from fighting between the Syrian government forces and insurgents, through the Wafideen crossing in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Thursday, March 22, 2018. Syrian troops have recently taken control of about 80 percent of eastern Ghouta from rebel forces.(SANA via AP)

BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian rescuers and a war monitoring group say 37 people were killed in airstrikes in a town in the eastern Ghouta region near the capital, Damascus, just hours before a cease-fire went into effect after midnight.

The rebel group Faylaq al-Rahman, one of at least three operating in the sprawling region, says intense government attacks targeted the area it controls on Thursday.

Rescuers, known as White Helmets, say the casualties were from an airstrike that hit an underground shelter in the town of Arbeen.

Rebel spokesman Wael Oweilan said Friday negotiations with Russia will follow to allow for the evacuation of civilians from the area.

A similar deal with another rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, led to the evacuation of hundreds of fighters and civilians from Harasta, an eastern Ghouta town.