The largest rebel group in the besieged suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus has vowed not to leave the area and to continue fighting advancing government forces.
The Jaish al-Islam group was responding to some local reports that said it is negotiating with the Syrian government and its Russian backers to leave the area known as eastern Ghouta.
Hamza Bayraqdar, the group’s chief military spokesman, said in a video statement posted online that “our revolutionary ideology does not allow us to sell the blood of the holy warriors who liberated Ghouta.”
Syrian government forces have recently captured more than half of eastern Ghouta and laid a siege on the group’s stronghold of Douma.
Bayraqdar says: “we will stay in Ghouta and defend it.”