BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say a checkpoint in a Christian and Druse suburb of Damascus mostly loyal to the regime came under attack today by al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebels who also detonated a suicide car bomb.

Activists say 16 soldiers were killed in the blast.

Rebels control much, but not all of the countryside around Damascus.

Assad has drawn support from Syria's ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians and members of his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The rebel movement is dominated by Sunni Muslims, who are a majority in Syria.

At least 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the country's civil war, now in its third year.