Activists say Syrian rebels have captured a strategic town near the border with Jordan after a day of fierce battles that killed 38 people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 16 rebels were among the dead in the fighting in and around Dael that ended early on Friday.

The rebels, fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, are in full control of the town of Daal located on a highway between Damascus and Daraa in the south, added the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The town lies only miles from the Jordanian border in Daraa province where the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in 2011.

At least 17 insurgents, 12 soldiers and nine civilians were killed in the battle, said the watchdog.

The region is considered a gateway to Damascus. Clashes there have recently intensified as rebels try to push on to the Syrian capital.

The battle for Dael came as a mortar attack on Damascus University killed at least 10 students on Thursday. The UN says Syria's civil war has killed more than 70,000 people.

Lawmaker Walid al-Zoghabi, a native of Daraa, was quoted on state-run television as saying that "terrorist groups" had made gains in Daraa, which was the birthplace of the two-year uprising against Assad.

Opposition forces have recently claimed major gains, but their fighting against Assad seems to have settled into a stalemate.

Meanwhile, the Syrian navy fired at a Lebanese boat, injuring a fisherman, Lebanon's official National News Agency reported.

The incident occurred in Lebanese territorial waters, it added.

The Syrian navy has been closely monitoring the northern Lebanese coast to prevent militants from infiltrating into Syria to join fighting against Assad's regime.