Syrian protester May 2, 2011
A Syrian protester shows his palms as he shouts anti-Syrian President Bashar Assad slogans during a sit-in in front of the UN house in Lebanon, May 2, 2011. Photo by AP
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Syrian rights activists say security forces have opened fire on anti-government protesters in southern Syria, killing at least three people as the government moves to crush a popular nationwide revolt.

President Bashar Assad has dispatched army troops backed by tanks to a cluster of villages near the southern city of Daraa where the uprising against the regime began in mid-March.

Demonstrators took the streets of some of those villages despite the heavy security presence, and activists said Wednesday that three protesters were killed after forces fired on crowds in the village of Jassem late Tuesday.

The activists spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

More than 750 people have been killed since the beginning of the crackdown, according to a rights group.

The report came after on Tuesday British daily The Guardian reported that Lebanon was turning back refugees attempting to flee Syrian President Bashar Assad's violent crackdown against the country's civilians.

According to The Guardian, hundreds of Syrians who crossed the border with Lebanon in the hope of finding refuge with Lebanese Sunni Muslims, were arrested by intelligence agents and sent back to face the violence at home.

On Wednesday Syrian army tanks shelled the Bab Amro residential district in the country's third largest city of Homs on Wednesday, a human rights campaigner in the city said.

"Homs is shaking with the sound of explosions from tank shelling and heavy machineguns," said Najati Tayrara.

Earlier this week, Syrian security forces arrested scores of people on Monday in two restive cities where Assad has sent troops to crush a seven-week-old revolt against his authoritarian rule, a human rights group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said people were detained in the central city of Homs and in Banias on the Mediterranean coast -- the latest focus of Assad's escalated crackdown against protesters, as well as other regions.

Rights groups say more than 600 people have been killed and 8,000 jailed or gone missing in Syria as part of a crackdown on protesters since March. Opposition groups put the death toll at over 700.