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Oct 18 2016
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Syria rebels reject Aleppo withdrawal after Russian statement

publishing date: 18/10/2016 04:34:07
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Syria rebels reject Aleppo withdrawal after Russian statement

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Russian and Syrian air forces had stopped airstrikes on Aleppo from 1000 local time (0700 GMT), ahead of the announced "humanitarian pause" scheduled for Oct. 20.

 

Russia's Defense Ministry said on Monday that a pause in strikes on Syria's largest city would be in force on Thursday, from 0800 (0500 GMT) until 1600, to allow civilians and rebels to leave the city.

 

Military experts will meet in Geneva on Wednesday to begin work on separating "terrorists" from Syria's opposition, Russia's state Rossiya 24 channel showed Shoigu saying.

 
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Syrian rebels said on Tuesday they rejected any withdrawal of fighters from Aleppo after Russia announced a halt in air raids which it said was designed to allow insurgents to leave and to separate moderate fighters from extremist militants.

  

"The factions completely reject any exit - this is surrender," said Zakaria Malahifji, the political officer of the Aleppo-based Fastaqim group.

 

Al-Farouk Abu Bakr, an Aleppo commander in the powerful Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, said the rebels would fight on.

  

"When we took up arms at the start of the revolution to defend our abandoned people we promised God that we would not lay them down until the downfall of this criminal regime," he said, referring to President Bashar al-Assad's government.

 

"There are no terrorists in Aleppo," he said, speaking from Aleppo. Rebels in eastern Aleppo have consistently said that insurgent groups linked to al Qaeda or inspired by it have no real presence in the the opposition-held part of the city. 

 
REUTERS
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