The Syrian army has regained control of the strategic town of Qusair on the border with Lebanon, Syrian state television said this morning.

Government and rebel forces have been fighting in Qusair for more than two weeks.

The town is on a cross-border supply route between Lebanon and Syria.

Regional television channel Mayadeen TV showed soldiers sticking Syrian flags with photographs of President Bashar al-Assad on piles of rubble in the streets.

"Our heroic armed forces have returned security and stability to all of the town of Qusair," the government said in a statement carried by state television.

Rebels said they had withdrawn from Quasair and claimed hundreds of people had been killed by the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters.

President Assad's forces fought hard to seize Qusair, which had been in rebel hands for over a year, to reassert control of a corridor through the central province of Homs that links Damascus to the coastal heartland of the president's minority Alawites.

"Whoever controls Qusair controls the centre of the country, and whoever controls the centre of the country controls all of Syria," Brigadier General Yahya Suleiman, speaking to Beirut-based Mayadeen television, said.

Rebels said they had pulled out of Qusair "in face of this huge arsenal and lack supplies and the blatant intervention of Hezbollah".

A security source said President Assad's forces had opened an escape route into Debaa and the Lebanese border town of Arsal to encourage fighters to leave Qusair, once home to around 30,000 people.