State media in Syria says army troops have killed 175 rebels in an ambush south of the capital, Damascus.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported Wednesday that the attack happened at dawn in the opposition-held area of eastern Ghouta.

SANA quoted a field commander in the area saying most of rebels belonged to the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebel group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the killings, saying that 70 rebels were killed in Wednesday's assault.

Lebanese TV shows scattered bodies

The Observatory, which has been documenting Syria's nearly three-year-old conflict by relying on activists' reports on the ground, says the number of those killed likely will rise because 89 rebels have been reported missing.


A fighter from the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, is seen in front of a burning vehicle. Syrian state media has reported that troops killed as many as 150 of the al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Damascus. (Hamid Khatib/Reuters)

In a live broadcast from the area, Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV station showed dozens of bodies scattered along an unpaved road.

An army colonel told Al-Mayadeen that his troops acted on intelligence and the rebels lost "more than 150 men" in the assault.

There was no immediate word from activists who track violence in Syria, nor any way to confirm if the rebels were from the Nusra Front or another group.

Syrian army tanks and armored personnel carriers were seen in the broadcast as were soldiers patrolling on foot.