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Syrian opposition fighters attack village of country's defense minister amid civil war

Syrian activists say rebels have attacked the village of the country's defense minister and captured parts of it.

Activists say the attack began Friday with a suicide bombing that targeted a checkpoint in the village of Rahjan in the central province of Hama.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels then entered parts of the village, killing 18 soldiers and pro-government gunmen.

An activist in Hama who goes by the name of Muhannad al-Muhammad confirmed that rebels, including members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, entered the village.

Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij is from the village and has played a major role in fighting rebels since he took office two years ago.

Syria's crisis which began in March 2011 has killed more than 170,000 people.

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