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Syria rebels threaten to disrupt truce if Assad's forces continue fighting

Militant groups in Syria have refused to abide by the truce unless government troops stop the violence within 48 hours. The statement comes after President Assad's army bombed rebel strongholds around Damascus.

Members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) released a statement signed by around 29 rebel groups on Sunday, saying they would consider the ceasefire "totally collapsed" unless the Syrian government stopped bombarding their strongholds around Damascus within 48 hours.

"We are giving the sponsors of the ceasefire 48 hours to rescue what remains of the accord and to force the criminal regime of Assad and his allies to completely and immediately halt their brutal offensive against Daraya and Eastern Ghouta," the statement said, referring to the areas outside Damascus.The town of Daraya, near the capital Damascus, has been under a strict siege by the regime since 2012.

"Rebel groups will take all possible measures and respond with all means to defend our people and on all fronts until the regime totally halts its offensives against all liberated regions, especially Daraya, and pulls back to its pre-May 14 positions," the rebels added.

They were therefore considering withdrawing from a "futile political process," which gave "legitimate cover to continue the crimes and massacres by the criminal Assad regime and its allies."

Peace talks fail

Backed by the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Syrian army recaptured the town of Deir al-Assafir and nine other villages around Damascus earlier this week. Hundreds of families were forced to flee the area. According to news agency AFP, Assad's forces took advantage of clashes in the Eastern Ghouta region between the groups Jaish al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, which also signed Sunday's statement.

US and Russia brokered a truce

in February this year to enable humanitarian aid to reach affected areas in Syria. However,

fighting and bombardment in Aleppo

led to an unraveling of the accord.

Peace talks

between foreign ministers of western and Arab countries, and Syrian representatives also failed last week in Vienna. No new date was set to resume talks.

mg/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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