More than 175 rebels killed in Damascus ambush

BY Ellen Rolfes  February 26, 2014 at 4:23 PM EDT

At least 175 rebel fighters were killed, and many more wounded, on Wednesday in an ambush in Damascus, according to Syrian Arab News Agency.

The state media organization reported that a Syrian army unit spotted members of Al-Nusra Front and Liwa al-Islam and “eliminated scores of terrorists,” most of whom were Saudis, Qataris and Chechens.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed to Agence France-Presse that dozens had been killed in the ambush.

According to Al Jazeera anaylsis, if the death count was confirmed, the attack would be the deadliest against rebels in months and a “significant advance” for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to strengthen his control over the nation’s capital and surrounding areas.

Al-Nusra Front is the official al-Qaida affliate operating in Syria and is attempting to overthrow Assad’s regime in order to establish an Islamic state.