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The Mideast

Syrian troops retake Christian town after pushing out al Qaeda-linked rebels

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    Oct. 25, 2013 - Destroyed weapons and ammunition carried by Syrian rebels at the site where they were killed by Syrian government forces (according to Syrian news agency SANA,) near Damascus, Syria. Syrian government troops on Friday ambushed rebels near the capital, Damascus, killing at least 40 opposition fighters, state media reported. (AP)

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    U.N. and Arab League envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi listens to a journalist during a join press conference in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo) (The Associated Press)

Syria's state media say government forces have retaken a Christian town north of Damascus after a week of clashes with al Qaeda-linked fighters who had recently captured key parts of it.

The state-run SANA news agency says the army "restored security and stability" to the town of Sadad early on Monday.

The town had been in opposition hands since last week, when al Qaeda-linked groups captured a checkpoint that gave them control of the western part of the town.

The fighting came as the U.N.-Arab League envoy headed to Syria for his first trip to the country in almost a year. Lakhdar Brahimi had arrived in Beirut earlier on Monday and left for Damascus.

Brahimi is trying to prepare a peace conference on Syria supposed to take place in Geneva next month.