DAMASCUS, March 1 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian troops on Saturday killed 30 rebels in a fiercely contested town north of the capital Damascus, the official SANA news agency reported.
The army carried out a "qualitative" operation in the strategic town of Yabroud, killing 30 "terrorists" and injuring tens of others, said SANA, spelling no further details.
Saturday's strike is the latest in a string of army operations that have killed over 230 rebels in the past week.
In mid-February, the army started a major offensive to recapture Yabroud by securing its surroundings before pressing into the town itself. However, till now, the battles around Yabroud are still ongoing.
Yabroud, some 80 km north of Damascus, is deemed as an important stronghold of armed rebels due to its location on the slope of the mountainous Qalamoun region and proximity to the Lebanese town of Ersal, where the rebels get weapons medical treatment.
Also, the town's rugged terrain and ancient caves give them shelter from government air raids.
Military experts have said by recapturing Yabroud, the government forces can secure the international road connecting Damascus to the central province of Homs and some provinces on the Mediterranean coast, and could deter the flow of car bombs into neighboring Lebanon.
Yabroud's open road to Ersal has facilitated the transport of booby-trapped cars into the Syrian neighbor, whose capital Beirut has been rocked recently by a series of suicide car bombings.
The attacks targeted some strongholds of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah militant group, whose fighters are battling al-Qaida- linked rebels alongside the Syrian troops in the central part of the country.