Syrian troops on Sunday seized full control of the rebel bastion Yabrud in the strategic Qalamun region near the Lebanese border, Syrian state media reported.
"Our brave armed forces have full control over Yabrud in Damascus province and are combing through the town and removing explosive devices placed by terrorists," state television said, citing a military source.
Opposition sources said civilians and activists from the town had fled across the nearby border into Lebanon overnight before Yabrud fell.
The loss of the town will be a symbolic and practical blow for the opposition.
It has been a rebel stronghold since early in the uprising that began in March 2011 and has proved a key strategic prize because of its proximity to the Lebanese border, across which weapons and fighters can be smuggled.
It also lies on the important highway that connects Damascus to Syria's third city Homs.
Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah, which has dispatched its well-trained fighters to bolster the government's forces, is believed to have played a key role in the capture of Yabrud.
The group's involvement in the conflict has prompted retaliatory bomb attacks against its strongholds in Lebanon.
Hezbollah and Lebanese security forces have said many of the car bombs used in attacks against the group in Lebanon originated in Yabrud and were driven across the border.