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article imageAssad forces kill up to 175 Al Qaeda-linked rebels in ambush

By Ken Hanly     Feb 26, 2014 in World
Damascus - Syrian state-run news outlets report that Syrian forces ambushed fighters of the Jabhat al-Nusra faction of rebels linked to Al Qaeda killing 175 and wounding many more.
Early reports put the toll only at dozens but then the toll was dramatically raised. The pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the incident. At first they reported the toll at about 70 but later also revised their estimate up to “156 killed and 10 taken prisoner.” The Observatory said: "Dozens of Islamist fighters were killed and wounded in an ambush by loyalist troops, with the help of (Lebanese Shiite group) Hezbollah, near Otaybeh village in the Eastern Ghouta area,"
The Lebanese group Hezbollah which was involved in the ambush said that the rebels were crossing the Ghouta area en route to join battles along the border with Jordan.
According to a Reuters report, Hezbollah actually led the ambush. A Hezbollah operated TV station reported on the ambush: "Lebanon's Al Manar television, which Hezbollah operates, broadcast images of dozens of bodies of men strewn along a rural road running through open fields near Otaiba, a town in the Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus. " The Eastern Ghouta area is a collection of villages just outside of Damascus which has long been a stronghold of rebel fighters and was an area in which there was a chemical attack last year.
Ever since January this year rebel forces have suffered casualties not only from battle with forces loyal to the Syrian government but also from internal dissension as other rebel groups fight with the radical ISIL the Islamic State in iraq and Levant. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that since January 3, about 3,300 people have been killed in these internal clashes. The ISIL has been disowned by Al Qaeda making Jabhat al Nusra the main rebel group recognized by the organization. Al Nusra joined the battle against ISIL even though they share radical jihadist views.
Sana the Syrian state news agency said that most of the fighters were Saudis, Qataris, and Chechens. The agency claimed most were members of Jabhat al-Nusra and Jaish al-Islam.
More about Jabhat al nusra, Syrian civil war, foreign fighters in Syria
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