An opposition fighter sits on sandbags in a barricaded position in a destroyed building in a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Deraa on April 18, 2018. AFP / Mohamad ABAZEED
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On a tense urban frontline in Syria's Deraa, rebel Atallah Qutayfan has been steadily reinforcing his defensive post for weeks in anticipation of a looming assault by government troops. The 25-year-old spends his days stacking sandbags to shore up his post overlooking a market in the southern city, and monitoring the amassing regime forces nearby.The city is split between rebels, who hold the southern Old City, and regime forces who control the modern districts and government posts to the north.That freed up troops who had spent years bombing the Ghouta front.In response, Abu Hatem adds, his forces reinforced their positions, dug trenches and erected fresh barricades.Gritting his teeth, rebel field commander Ibrahim Musalima, 27, insists the extra measures are necessary. Rebels and opposition officials alike insist Deraa's fate will not resemble Ghouta's, where a five-year siege had worn down rebel groups.
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