Blast, clashes kill at least 16 soldiers near Damascus

BEIRUT (AFP) - At least 16 soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack and fighting that followed between Syrian government forces and Islamist rebels near Damascus on Saturday, a monitoring group said.

The bombing, carried out by a suicide bomber from the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, triggered heavy fighting at a key checkpoint between the rebel-held town of Mleha and Jaramana, a pro-regime area populated by Christians and Muslim Druze, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.