AMMAN - Syrian rebels killed at least seven militiamen loyal to President Bashar Assad in an attack on a bus carrying the fighters through a Damascus suburb, opposition activists said.

The attack with rocket-propelled grenades destroyed the vehicle on the edge of Irbin, 5km (3 miles) east of the capital's main Abbasid Square at around 9.30 a.m. (0630 GMT), activists said.

"Troops sealed off the area then tanks began shelling. A five story building was badly hit but it was empty," activist Mohammad Saeed told Reuters, saying he was speaking by satellite phone from the suburb.

Irbin was among several northern and eastern Damascus suburbs that briefly fell under rebel control before the army seized them back at the end of January.

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