World

Rebels and Ukrainian authorities agree on humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians

  • A pro-Russian rebel guards a captured former Ukrainian Army checkpoint outside Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015.  The rebels have closed in around the town in a strategy they triumphantly refer to as the Debaltseve cauldron. Separatists recently burst through government lines in the rural settlement of Vuhlehirsk. (AP Photo/Vadim Braydov)

    A pro-Russian rebel guards a captured former Ukrainian Army checkpoint outside Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. The rebels have closed in around the town in a strategy they triumphantly refer to as the Debaltseve cauldron. Separatists recently burst through government lines in the rural settlement of Vuhlehirsk. (AP Photo/Vadim Braydov)  (The Associated Press)

  • Relatives of a pro-Russian rebel fighter killed during fighting against Ukrainian government forces, mourn during his funeral in Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, after the separatists recently burst through government lines in Vuhlehirsk.  The rebels are reported to have closed in around the town in a strategy they triumphantly refer to as the Debaltseve cauldron. (AP Photo/Vadim Braydov)

    Relatives of a pro-Russian rebel fighter killed during fighting against Ukrainian government forces, mourn during his funeral in Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, after the separatists recently burst through government lines in Vuhlehirsk. The rebels are reported to have closed in around the town in a strategy they triumphantly refer to as the Debaltseve cauldron. (AP Photo/Vadim Braydov)  (The Associated Press)

  • A mourner carries a candle as relatives of a pro-Russian rebel fighter killed during fighting against Ukrainian government forces, mourn during his funeral in Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, after the separatists recently burst through government lines in Vuhlehirsk.  The rebels are reported to have closed in around the town in a strategy they triumphantly refer to as the Debaltseve cauldron. (AP Photo/Vadim Braydov)

    A mourner carries a candle as relatives of a pro-Russian rebel fighter killed during fighting against Ukrainian government forces, mourn during his funeral in Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, after the separatists recently burst through government lines in Vuhlehirsk. The rebels are reported to have closed in around the town in a strategy they triumphantly refer to as the Debaltseve cauldron. (AP Photo/Vadim Braydov)  (The Associated Press)

The pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine say they have reached agreement with government forces on a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from the epicenter of fighting.

The move comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are set to leave for Moscow to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin after discussing their peace plan Thursday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Rebel leaders said Friday that they reached agreement with Ukrainian authorities to allow the evacuation of civilians from Debaltseve, a key railway hub that has become the focus of fighting in recent weeks because of its strategic location.

More than 5,300 people have been killed since the fighting started in April.