December 27, 2013 9:54 am

Syrian troops ambush and kill dozens of rebels

In this Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect damages buildings following a Syrian government airstrike in Aleppo, Syria. Government forces widened a bombing campaign in rebel-held areas of northern Syria on Monday, striking the northern city of Aleppo and a town on the Turkish border in raids that left an estimated 45 people dead, activists said.

AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC

DAMASCUS, Syria – Syrian state TV and opposition activists say government forces have ambushed members of an al-Qaida-linked group, killing dozens of them near a historic Christian village north of Damascus.

The TV says troops surprised fighters of the Nusra Front Friday at dawn near Maaloula, which the group along with other rebels captured in late November for the second time this year. Maaloula had previously been firmly in the government’s grip despite being surrounded by rebel-held territory.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that dozens were killed, and that 20 were wounded.

Maaloula is on the edge of the rugged Qalamoun region, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of the capital, where the government has been on the offensive for weeks.

© 2013 The Canadian Press

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