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Nov 27, 5:12 AM EST

Syrian troops kill 30 rebels near Damascus


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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian government forces have killed at least 30 rebels in an ambush in the suburbs of Damascus where troops and allied gunmen have been on the offensive for weeks, activists and state media said Thursday.

State news agency SANA said 50 "terrorists" were killed in an ambush as they tried to flee the eastern suburb of Maydaa toward the nearby area of Dumair. State media refers to rebels as terrorists.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria, said at least 30 men were killed in the Wednesday night ambush by Syrian troops and members of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group.

Another activist said more than 30 rebels were killed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution.

Activist Hadi Munajed, who is based near Damascus, said the ambush killed 50 men who were trying to flee the Ghouta area. He said via Skype that the men were killed by mines planted by the government. "They were walking toward Dumair and were all killed," he said.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in areas near the capital in a bid to secure President Bashar Assad's seat of power.

Syria's war, now well into its fourth year, began as an uprising against the Assad family's four-decade rule. It has since become a complicated civil war, and activists estimate some 200,000 people have been killed.

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Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

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