BEIRUT -- Syrian government forces ambushed and killed more than 60 rebel fighters Wednesday in the suburbs of the capital Damascus, activists and state media reported.
The fighters were walking before dusk near the industrial city of Adra when government forces opened fire on them with antiaircraft machine guns, said Musab Abu Qatada, spokesman for a key rebel group, the Damascus Military Council. He said 65 rebels were killed and three survived, though other sources gave slightly differing numbers.
Abu Qatada said the fighters were attempting to deliver flour and medicine to the Ghouta Sharqia, the rebel-controlled eastern suburbs of Damascus that have been mostly cut off from receiving supplies for many months.
But state media reported that the group was attempting to infiltrate the Eastern Ghouta in order to attack a military checkpoint. All of the fighters, among them foreigners, were killed and their weapons, including Israeli-made rifles, were seized, state media claimed.
The opposition identified the fighters as members of the Free Syrian Army, while state media said they were fighters with the Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda-affiliated group that fights alongside the FSA.
Abu Qatada said this was the third time opposition fighters had tried to deliver aid to the besieged suburbs only to be ambushed by government forces. In late July, dozens of rebels were killed.
Another opposition activist, Abu Yazen, said the rebels had tripped mines in a field they were walking through, which alerted the government forces. According to Abu Qatada's account, they were spotted with the use of night-vision goggles.