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Syrian state media say army troops killed 175 rebels in attack near Damascus

Wednesday - 2/26/2014, 10:00pm  ET

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian state media says the army killed 175 rebels, many of them al-Qaida-linked fighters, in an ambush near Damascus.

Syrian state news agency SANA quotes a field commander as saying most of the rebels killed in the assault belonged to the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebel group and several were foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Qatar. SANA says the operation dealt "a smashing blow to terrorists."

An opposition group calls the attack the heaviest loss for the Nusra Front and Islamic brigades since the start of the revolution.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the dawn ambush was carried out by the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which has been helping President Bashar Assad's regime push back rebels entrenched in the suburbs of the capital.

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135-c-15-(Barbara Surk (soork), AP correspondent)-"a dawn ambush"-AP correspondent Barbara Surk reports that state media in Syria say Army troops have killed many rebels, around 170. (26 Feb 2014)

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136-c-13-(Barbara Surk (soork), AP correspondent)-"and attacked them"-AP correspondent Barbara Surk reports that state media say the Syrian government had access to intel that allowed troops to attack vulnerable rebel positions. (26 Feb 2014)

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137-c-10-(Barbara Surk (soork), AP correspondent)-"the rebel movement"-AP correspondent Barbara Surk reports that this sounds like a major development. (26 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO BEI106: EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces stand next to the bodies of rebels south of Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. Syrian army troops killed scores of rebels Wednesday state media reported, a major attack targeting mostly al-Qaida-linked fighters as part of a government effort to secure the capital.(AP Photo/SANA) (26 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO BEI108: This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows dead bodies of Syrian rebels south of Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. Syrian army troops killed scores of rebels Wednesday state media reported, a major attack targeting mostly al-Qaida-linked fighters as part of a government effort to secure the capital.(AP Photo/SANA) (26 Feb 2014)

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