Syrian troops beefed up their positions Thursday near the border with Turkey, sending tanks and soldiers to stop army defectors from launching cross-border attacks, Syrian media said.
Many Syrian army defectors are hiding in Turkey, a former ally that has opened its border to thousands of refugees fleeing a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, dpa reported.
The state-run SANA news agency said the move followed several confrontations between the Syrian army and "terrorists" who have been launching attacks inside Syria from their hideouts in Turkey.
The announcement came hours after Syria said gunmen had attacked an oil pipeline in the city of Homs, which lies some 100 kilometres from the Turkish border. But activists based in Homs said the attack was ordered by the government to justify a military crackdown there.
Pictures posted on SANA showed thick black smoke billowing over residential buildings. A large complex with several huge white storage tanks and cooling towers could be seen in the background.
At least 14 people were killed in the rebellious city on Thursday. The sabotaged pipeline carries crude from eastern Syria to a refinery in Homs.
Activists based in neighbouring Lebanon said dozens of Syrian tanks took up positions along the Syrian-Turkish border and soldiers were seen setting up military posts.
The regime of President Bashar al-Assad has often blamed the 8-month-long violence on "terrorists" backed by foreign powers.
State media have also accused the Turkish army of "assisting the terrorists, who were wounded in the clashes and escaped to Turkey."
The Syrian Free Army, which is made up of defectors and regime opponents, is based in Turkey. That country has deepened al-Assad's isolation by imposing sanctions against his regime and calling on him to step down over violence that has killed more than 4,000 people.
Opposition activist Omar Homsi told dpa that more than 130 people have been killed by Syrian security forces since Monday in the Khalidiyeh and Baba Amr neighbourhoods of Homs.
It is difficult to independently verify events in Syria, which has barred most foreign media since popular protests erupted in March.
Activists said mass protests were planned in several Syrian cities on Friday and opposition groups have called for an open-ended strike starting on Sunday.