A Syrian activist group says at least 16 soldiers have been killed in a suicide car bombing and ensuing clashes with rebels just outside Damascus .
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the suicide attack Saturday was carried out by the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
The blast went off at a checkpoint between the rebel-held area of Mleha and the pro-government town of Jaramana, which is populated by Christians and Druze.
Syria's state-run SANA news agency also reported the blast and said there were casualties.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility.
In other news, Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said nine Shi'ite pilgrims from Lebanon kidnapped last year in Syria have been freed as part of a negotiated hostage deal.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions more since it began in March 2011.