DAMASCUS, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Syrian state TV said Friday that the government forces regained control of the restive Midan neighborhood of the capital Damascus, "cleaning armed terrorist groups there completely."
The clashes in Midan and several southern districts started on Sunday, when armed rebels Free Syria Army announced the commencement of the "great battle of Damascus" that aimed at " bringing down the regime stronghold."
Activists, meanwhile, said the rebels withdrew from Midan to " save the civilians from being killed due to the severity of clashes and the army shelling of the neighborhood."
Hundreds have been reported killed over the past days in the intense clashes.
Meantime,the Syrian information ministry organized a trip for journalists to the Midan area.
During the tour, Xinhua reporter saw dead bodies of bearded fighters laying on the ground, all dressed in black with some axes next to them, and a lot of old apartments were destroyed and others with smashed windows.
Fire was still seen in some houses, as some cars were totally burnt.
The streets in Midan were almost deserted. Mosques there have suffered a great deal of damage as the armed rebels had sought refuge inside the holy places to avoid the army's shelling.
Many of the arrested gunmen were tied up and downed on their knees in line, waiting to be transported to prison.
Uniforms of the rebel Free Syrian Army were also seen alongside large quantities of ammunition and weapons.
An official source told reporters that a big number of Syrian and Arab fighters, including Afghanistanis, were captured and several others were killed during the days-long crisis.
A number of families were killed "simply because they support the regime," he added, noting that the army entered the city upon calls from the residents.
"We found inside mosques the Salafi books, weapons and field hospitals," he said.
"The fighters don't fight in defense of a certain concept, but rather for money," he said, adding that "they are mercenaries."
Special Report: Syrian Situation