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Syrian government claims 175 rebel deaths in ambush

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian army troops killed 175 rebels in an ambush today south of Damascus, state media reported, a major attack targeting mostly al-Qaida-linked fighters as part of a government effort to secure the capital.

The dawn attack by President Bashar Assad’s forces in the opposition-held area of eastern Ghouta likely will push rebel groups against his rule further away from Damascus, his seat of power. The capital’s suburbs have been opposition strongholds since March 2011, when the revolt against the ruling family began.

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