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Ukraine rebels say they are withdrawing heavy artillery from front line in step toward peace

  • A Ukrainian soldier holds a cat as he receives warm clothes close to Luhansk in the eastern Ukraine Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.  Despite of the declared cease-fire between the separatists and the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine occasional shooting has been reported. (AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)

    A Ukrainian soldier holds a cat as he receives warm clothes close to Luhansk in the eastern Ukraine Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Despite of the declared cease-fire between the separatists and the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine occasional shooting has been reported. (AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pro-Russian rebels guard a Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe car in the village of Nyzhnya Krynka, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. A cease-fire in east Ukraine is being upheld by both government troops and Russia-backed rebels, a senior Ukrainian official said Tuesday, in a first step toward enforcing a truce that has been riddled by repeated violations since it was imposed earlier this month. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    Pro-Russian rebels guard a Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe car in the village of Nyzhnya Krynka, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. A cease-fire in east Ukraine is being upheld by both government troops and Russia-backed rebels, a senior Ukrainian official said Tuesday, in a first step toward enforcing a truce that has been riddled by repeated violations since it was imposed earlier this month. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Ukrainian tank destroyed in recent battles with the Russian troops is seen on a  road near the village of Dmytrivka, Luhansk region in the eastern Ukraine Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.  Despite of the declared cease-fire between the separatists and the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine occasional shooting has been reported. (AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)

    A Ukrainian tank destroyed in recent battles with the Russian troops is seen on a road near the village of Dmytrivka, Luhansk region in the eastern Ukraine Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Despite of the declared cease-fire between the separatists and the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine occasional shooting has been reported. (AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)  (The Associated Press)

Russia-backed rebels in east Ukraine say that they are pulling back heavy artillery from front-line positions in response to similar moves by the Ukrainian army, a first step toward satisfying a truce agreement signed last week.

Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko told Interfax news agency Tuesday that his forces were withdrawing heavy artillery from certain areas on the front line, but said that "in those places where Ukraine does not withdraw its artillery, we also will not withdraw."

The withdrawal would be an important step toward implementing a new peace agreement signed Saturday, which requires both sides to remove heavy artillery from the front line. The withdrawals would create a buffer zone and allow a Sept. 5 cease-fire, which has been riddled by violations, to be more effectively enforced.