BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria's government showed off TV and still images of burned buildings and rubble-strewn streets empty of people in Hama, the epicenter of antiregime protests, and said Friday it was putting an end to the rebellion in the besieged city.
Under the suffocating clampdown, city residents warned that medical supplies were running out and food was rotting after six days without electricity.
Across the country, tens of thousands of protesters marched, chanting their solidarity with Hama and demanding President Bashar Assad's ouster. They were met by security forces who opened fire, killing at least 13 people, activists said.
Government forces began their ferocious assault on Hama on Sunday, cutting off electricity, phone services and the Internet, and blocking supplies into the city of 800,000 as they shelled neighborhoods and sent in tanks and ground raids.
It appeared to be an all-out attempt to take back the city — which has a history of dissent — after residents all but took it over since June, barricading it against the regime. Rights group say at least 100 people have been killed, while some estimates put the number as high as 250.
The tolls could not be verified because of the difficulty reaching residents and hospital officials in Hama, where journalists are barred as they are across Syria.
Syrian state media on Friday proclaimed army units were "working to restore security, stability and normal life to Hama," which it said had been taken over by "terrorists." The message mirrored the regime's claim that armed extremists seeking to destabilize the country are behind the unrest, as opposed to true reform-seekers.
A citizen journalist from Hama working with an online global activist group, Avaaz, told the Associated Press that people were now too afraid to go to the mosques, which were being targeted by the military.
Americans urged to exit: Friday the U.S. State Department urged Americans to leave Syria and advised those who remain to restrict their movements. The warning came as congressional calls grew for the Obama administration to impose severe new sanctions on Assad's regime.