The Syrian government took journalists on a rare tour of the protest stronghold city of Hama on Wednesday, claiming that it now had the city of 800,000 firmly under its control.
Journalists for the Press Association and others reported that the city was "deserted" while troops set about removing barricades.
"We have finished a delicate operation in which we eradicated terrorists' hideouts," an army officer said.
There were also reports that government troops had seized control of Deir el-Zour, another centre of anti-government action, after almost a week of attacks on civilians.
The PA reported that an activist in Deir el-Zour said the military was "shooting anything that moves".
"The situation is terrible," the activist said. "Bakeries and pharmacies are closed, while food and baby formula are scarce."
Activists from the global protest group Avaaz.org reported that troops had fired on a protest in Baba Amr, near Homs, killing at least ten people.
Up to nine people were killed and 18 injured in al-Joura after the shelling of residential houses, Avaaz said, while government troops broke into homes and carried out arrests in many areas of the country.
More than 300 people have been killed in Syria since the start of Ramadan. The latest crackdown began after government forces attacked Hama, which had been largely free of its influence for some weeks.
"The situation has not become better at all. People are very, very confused and they are very, very angry and tired," a young citizen journalist has told The Huffington Post UK. "The shops have been closed because they put checkpoints up every few metres. People don't have the ability to get to the shops."Suggest a correction