Syria rebels reject Aleppo withdrawal after Russian statement

October 18, 2016 6:38 AM EDT

A Russian serviceman walks past Russian Iskander-M missile launchers before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, with the Moscow International Business Center also known as "Moskva-City" seen in the background, at a range in Moscow, Russia, May 5, 2016


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BEIRUT (Reuters) - 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 opposition-held part of the city.

(Reporting by John Davison and Tom Perry; Editing by Dominic Evans)



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