Activists: Syrian troops kill dozens near Damascus

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In this Tuesday, July 31, 2012 photo, a Free Syrian Army soldier stands at a check point in Maarat Misrin in Idlib province, Syria. Arabic on the barriers read, "no God but Allah," background, and "Free Syrian Army," foreground. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian opposition activists say regime forces have swept through neighborhoods south of the capital Damascus in a deadly military operation that has inflicted casualties.

By some activist estimates, dozens of people have been killed. The figure could not be independently confirmed.

Syria's state-run news agency said Thursday that army forces have raided rebel hideouts in Yalda as well as Jdaidat Artouz, both southern suburbs of the capital, and had killed and arrested "a number" of militants.

SANA says the operation began Wednesday evening. It says Syrian troops targeted terrorists — the government's term for armed opponents of the regime.

A rebel assault on Damascus was crushed two weeks ago, but many areas remain sympathetic to the rebels.