The strategic city of Yabroud, the last bastion of the anti-government rebels in the Al Qalamun border region, has been brought under control by the Syrian regime, the armed forces said Sunday.

"The army managed to reestablish stability and security in the city of Yabroud and its surroundings," the armed forces general command said in a communique released by Syria's official Sana news agency.

The forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad killed "a large number of mercenary terrorists who had entrenched themselves in the city and had used it for the passage of arms and terrorists to the country's interior," the army said.

The troops deactivated explosives that had been planted by the "terrorists," as the regime calls the rebels, the army said.

The taking of Yabroud "is an important phase in protecting the border zones with Lebanon and strengthening the security of the international highway between the north and the center" of the country, the army said.

The regime says that it controls the highway running through Al Qalamun, a region north of Damascus and bordering on Lebanon, and linking the Syrian capital with the government-allied zones along the Mediterranean coast, thus cutting the main northern route for supplies to be sent to the rebels in the capital and its vicinity.

An activist with the opposition Sham network in Al Qalamun, Rawad al Shami, told Efe via Internet that he had lost contact with the insurgent combatants in Yabroud several hours ago and that the last time he had been able to speak with them they said they only controlled a small part of the city.

The rebels, who include combatants of the Al Nusra Front, which is linked to Al Qaeda, were only holding the neighborhoods of Al Qamaia and Al Qaa, as well as the Al Arid highway before he lost contact with them, Al Shami said. EFE