Syrian government forces are celebrating the restoration of control over the rebel town of Rastan following the most sustained military operation of the uprising.
State television has been showing pictures of what it claims are civilians welcoming the restoration of order, captured weapons, and military deserters taken prisoner.
Some 250 armoured vehicles and helicopters were reportedly engaged in recapturing the town of 40,000 people, which shook to the sounds of open warfare for days before falling.
Rastan lies on a key highway between the capital Damascus and Syria’s second city Aleppo. It had been under the control of army deserters and rebels for several weeks. The main defector unit, known as the Khaled bin al-Walid batallion, says it withdrew rather than see large-scale loss of civilian life.
However amateur video from around the country claims to show protests and fighting continue on a daily basis. Activists claim government loyalists are now killing between 15 to 20 civilians a day.