M23 rebels call for cease-fire with Congo military after offensive sends fighters into hills

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The M23 rebels who were forced to retreat from most of their strongholds in eastern Congo are now calling for a cease-fire with the government.

In a statement released Sunday, M23 president Bertrand Bisimwa urged the Congolese military to cease all hostilities so as to allow peace talks to go forward.

After an 18-month rebellion that saw the rebels briefly overtake the city of Goma last year, the Congolese military stepped up its offensive in October. It quickly retook a series of towns, and M23 fighters headed for the hills.

Bisimwa is now in Uganda, where negotiations between the two sides have been under way, though they have repeatedly stalled in the past. M23 is widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, a claim the government denies.