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Rebels Vow to Keep Pressure on Soviets

United Press International

Afghan rebel leaders said Friday they had expected the Kremlin to suspend its withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan but vowed to step up pressure on the remaining troops and force Moscow to complete the pullout.

“We always had doubts about Russian sincerity in this regard, so it’s not a surprise,” Sayeed Ahmed Gailani, head of the rebel National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, said in reaction to the Soviet announcement Friday that the troop withdrawal had been suspended indefinitely.

“But we have become much stronger lately, and if the Soviets don’t go willingly we can persuade them,” he said in a telephone interview from his home here.

There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan to the Soviet announcement, but leaders of the seven-party Pakistan-based rebel alliance said it will not lessen its commitment to overthrowing the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul and establishing an Islamic government in Afghanistan.

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