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Jul 20, 3:06 PM EDT

Ambush near Syrian capital kills 28 government troops


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BEIRUT (AP) -- A Syrian military unit was ambushed on Thursday by insurgent near the capital, Damascus, triggering a firefight that killed 28 government troops, activists said.

The ambush followed days of intense fighting as rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital have come under a government offensive. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the soldiers and allied gunmen were ambushed in the rebel-held village of Rihan east of Damascus.

Anas al-Dimashqi, an opposition activist based in the area, and the Observatory said the ambush killed at least 28 troops and pro-government gunmen.

Syrian government forces and their allies have been trying to storm eastern suburbs of Damascus, known as eastern Ghouta, but have struggled to penetrate rebel defenses.

Also on Thursday, Syria's rubber-stamp Parliament discharged its speaker, Hadyiah Abbas, from her post with a majority vote. A statement said Abbas, who was the first woman to take up the post in June 2016, was sacked because of her "undemocratic practices."

It added that she repeatedly prevented lawmakers from speaking and unlawfully disregarded the opinion of most of the house members. No other details were immediately released.

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