DAMASCUS, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Friday killed some rebels, many of them foreign Arabs, in the countryside of the western coastal city of Latakia, the official SANA news agency reported.
Iraqis, Moroccans, and Yemenis were among those killed in the army's "qualitative" operations in the towns of Salma, Ghunaimyeh, Zahyeh, Suda, Rawda and al-Shahrura in the countryside of Latakia, SANA said, spelling no further details about the exact number of the killed.
Damascus has for long complained about the influx of foreign jihadist fighters who joined the insurgency in the country and has accused its neighbors of serving as a conduit for them.
The number of jihadists joining the Syrian conflict has been on a steady rise, according to media reports. They may have established a base for al-Qaida, which poses a serious threat to regional and European countries, as al-Qaida chief Ayman al- Zawahiri said recently that he views Syria as a promising staging ground.
Haitham al-Maleh, a leading opposition figure in exile, said recently that a total of 12,000 foreign fighters have joined the rebels in Syria.
Meanwhile, pro-government Sham FM radio said dozens of rebels were killed during a showdown with the Syrian army in the Damascus suburb of Mlaiha and its surroundings on Friday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine people were killed when the government troops stormed a village in the western countryside of the central province of Hama, a claim that could not be independently verified.
Syria's three-year-old conflict has left more than 10,000 people killed, and 9.3 million people within Syria and more than two million others outside the country in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the statistics by the UN and some humanitarian organizations.