Syrian rebels 'killed in army ambush near Damascus'

May showing Adra, Syria

More than 60 rebel fighters have been killed in an ambush by the Syrian army, a monitoring group says.

The rebels were killed in a dawn ambush near the town of Adra, east of Damascus, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"At least 62 rebels fell as martyrs, most of them youths," the group said.

The state news agency Sana confirmed that "dozens" of rebels had been killed, and said they were from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

Sana said the rebels' machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades were confiscated.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the 28-month conflict in Syria, with a further 1.7 million Syrians forced to seek shelter in neighbouring countries, according to UN estimates.

Army forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are still in control of much of Damascus and routes to the west, while the rebels have taken over swathes of the north and east.

State-run broadcaster Al-Ikhbariya TV showed footage of the dead men, some of whom were in military fatigues.

Mohammed Saeed, an activist near Damascus, told the Associated Press that the rebels were walking from the eastern suburbs of Damascus to the area of Qalamoun.

"The regime forces riddled them with heavy machine-gun fire," he said. "It seems that the regime discovered the secret road that the rebels were using."

Aleppo destruction

Frequent battles are taking place in Aleppo, one of Syria's largest cities. Entire districts of the city have been destroyed, according to a report released on Wednesday by the rights group Amnesty International.

It has released satellite photographs of several areas of Aleppo districts showing the impact of the conflict on the northern city.

The images were captured before and after clashes between government and rebel forces, Amnesty said.

Ard al-Hamra, Aleppo, Dec 2012 Newly-released satellite image analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for human rights group Amnesty has highlighted the scale of destruction in areas of Aleppo.
Ard al-Hamra, Aleppo, Feb 2013 The images show neighbourhoods where, the report alleges, ballistic missile strikes by government forces have destroyed entire blocks of buildings.
Jabal Badro, Aleppo, Dec 2012 In its analysis, AAAS found that destruction across the city was "severely lopsided" towards opposition-held areas, with residential, commercial and religious buildings targeted.
Jabal Badro, Aleppo, Feb 2013 The report suggests that more than 160 people were killed in the three strikes shown in these satellite images, in addition to the destruction of scores of homes in Syria's most populous city.
Tariq al-Bab, Aleppo, Dec 2012 The images were compiled over a period of several months from late 2012. Amnesty emergency response manager Christoph Koettl described them as "a snapshot of a population under brutal siege".
Tariq al-Bab, Aleppo, Feb 2013 Fighting continues in and around Aleppo with both sides vying for control of the airport. Other parts of the city have experienced food shortages as a result of blockades and sieges.

The images suggest "an utter disregard for international law", Amnesty alleged, along with "extensive destruction, death, and displacement".

Much of the destruction is the consequence of "a campaign of indiscriminate air bombardment" by supporters of President Assad, Amnesty said.

On Tuesday rebels captured a key airbase in Aleppo province, near the Turkish border.

The Menagh base lies on a major rebel supply route from Turkey.

Rebels have also recently taken several villages in Latakia province, the heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's minority Alawite sect.

But forces loyal to the president have made recent gains too - in Damascus, Homs, and other areas of Aleppo.

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