DAMASCUS, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- A total of 16 armed militias affiliated with al-Qaida terror network were killed by the Syrian army in the northern Aleppo province on Friday, the pan-Arab Al- Mayadeen TV reported.
The 16 gunmen were members of the al-Nusra front, an al-Qaida- linked group, Al-Mayadeen said, adding that their killing took place at Sheikh Maqsoud area in Aleppo, which the army has later " purged."
The TV said all members of the al-Nusra had pulled out from the same area.
Also in Aleppo, Al-Mayadeen said the Syrian troops downed a spy balloon Friday over the coastal city of Banyyas. But it also said the report has not been confirmed officially.
Earlier, the state-run SANA said four Palestinian refugees, including two kids, were killed Friday when armed groups fired mortar shells at the al-Nairab camp in Aleppo, adding that the camp attack also left 10 civilians injured.
Meanwhile, the state-TV said "terrorists" fired mortar shells at Sedi Miqdad area in the capital Damascus, destroying a mosque minaret.
The oppositional Local Coordination Committees, an activists' network, said the Syrian troops backed by a helicopter gunship shelled Friday the Damascus' suburb of Hameh, and unleashed sweeping arrests at Jobar in the southern slice of Damascus.
It also reported heavy mortar shelling at the eastern Ghouta areas of Damascus.
The reported violence in Damascus coincided with the fighting in Aleppo, a day after the rebel Free Syrian Army announced the commencement of a "decisive battle" in the northern province.