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Army kills 'dozens' of rebels near Damascus: State TV

AFP , Wednesday 26 Feb 2014

Dozens of rebel fighters were killed Wednesday in an army ambush at the entrance to an opposition stronghold east of the Syrian capital, state television and a monitoring group said.

"Acting on information and in a well-organised ambush, our courageous army killed dozens of Al-Nusra Front terrorists, most of them non-Syrians, in the Eastern Ghouta area," said state television.

The army also seized the rebels' weapons, the channel said, using the term "terrorists" to refer to rebels.

The Eastern Ghouta area is a key rebel stronghold outside the capital. The area was the target of a chemical attack in August 2013 that killed hundreds of people.

Al-Nusra Front is an Al-Qaeda-linked group that has joined rebels in the armed revolt to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the report.

"Dozens of Islamist fighters were killed and wounded in an ambush by loyalist troops, with the help of (Lebanon's Shiite group) Hezbollah, near Otaybeh village in the Eastern Ghouta area," said the Britain-based group.

A security source said most of the fighters were Jordanians or Saudis, and that they had crossed over into Syria from Jordan earlier the same day.

The ambush took place at around 5:00 am (0300 GMT) and killed 156 rebels. Another 10 were taken prisoner, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Otaybeh area has seen several army ambushes in past months.

Syria's war has since March 2011 killed more than 140,000 people and forced millions more to flee.

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