Syrian Troops Ambush al-Qaeda Rebels, at Least 62 Killed

Fighters Were Going to Attack Town Near Damascus

A group of approximately 70 fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked rebel faction Jabhat al-Nusra got caught up in an ambush while heading to attack the town of Adra, near Damascus, and were routed by the Syrian military.

At least 62 of the 70 have been confirmed killed, though the toll may be higher as some rebel factions say they believe only three of the rebels survived, a major setback for one of the biggest, most aggressive rebel factions.

Syrian state media showed identification cards and passports taken off the slain rebels, showing many of them were foreign fighters from Tunisia, Libya and Saudi Arabia. Nusra and other Islamist factions have put considerable effort into recruiting foreign fighters as the war has taken on a more sectarian tone.

Rebels familiar with the operation say the Nusra fighters were traveling on a “secret road” to Adra, which they didn’t think the Syrian military knew about, and found that the army was already set up and waiting for them when they got close to the town.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.