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Syrian rebels say will defend Ghouta, not negotiating withdrawal

Volunteers from the Syrian civil defence help a man in Hamouria during Syrian government shelling on rebel-held areas in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 6, 2018. Heavy air strikes and clashes shook the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, as France and Britain called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the escalating violence. – AFP

BEIRUT, March 7 (Reuters) – Syrian rebels in eastern Ghouta will defend the territory and there are no negotiations over a withdrawal that has been proposed by Russia, the military spokesman for one of the main eastern Ghouta rebel groups said on Wednesday.
“There are no negotiations about this subject. The factions of Ghouta and their fighters and its people are holding onto their land and will defend it,” Hamza Birqdar told Reuters in a text message.
Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally, has offered to give rebel fighters safe passage out of eastern Ghouta, near the capital, Damascus, with their families and personal weapons.

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