Damascus: Syrian security forces killed eight people on Thursday, including two children, activists said, amid reports that the Army had laid mines along the border with Lebanon.
"A 15-year-old minor was killed and three people were wounded by security forces during raids" in Dael, a protest hub near the southern city of Daraa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
On Wednesday, more than 5,000 people in Dael called for the fall of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the Observatory said, adding that 23 people were arrested there.
In the central region of Homs, another hotbed of dissent, two civilians were killed, one shot by sniper fire, a statement from the Britain-based watchdog said.
Further north, in Hama, five civilians, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed by heavy machinegun fire as the Army and gunmen believed to be deserters, the Observatory said.
The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network spurring protests on the ground, said security forces entered several towns to the east of Damascus looking for people "on the basis of lists”.
State television, meanwhile, broadcast images of a huge pro-Assad rally in the coastal city of Latakia, saying that showed people`s support for (Assad`s) reform programme and their rejection of foreign interference.
In a region bordering northern Lebanon, Syrian troops were seen planting mines in the early morning in an apparent bid to stop weapons smuggling along the porous border, a local Lebanese official said.
He said the troops began planting the mines at dawn in an area facing two Lebanese villages -- Knaysseh and Al-Hnayder. "A number of Syrian soldiers were also seen deploying on their side of the border, near the Syrian villages of Heet and Buwayt," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The area is separated only by mounds of earth and for long has been used to smuggle goods between the two countries. On the diplomatic front, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem held talks with China`s special envoy for the Middle East, who reaffirmed his country`s opposition to foreign interference in Syria, Syria`s official news agency said.
Muallem and Wu Sike met in Damascus and spoke of "the relations of solid friendship" between their countries, the agency said.
The Syrian minister explained "the current situation, measures taken by Syrian leaders to respond to the legitimate demands of its citizens and efforts made to implement reforms”.
Wu reaffirmed the "pursuit of cooperation between the two countries within international bodies" as well as China`s "opposition to attempts to interfere in Syrian affairs”.