At least nine people were killed on Sunday in Syria, as a general strike began in several areas and activists called on people to join them in defiance of the government's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, DPA reported.
The Local Coordination Committees in Syria, an online group of activists who document anti-government protests, said that two people were shot dead in each of the northern province of Idlib and in the central Homs.
Another four were killed in the central Hama province and one was killed in the southern Daraa province.
Heavy clashes erupted between government troops and army defectors in Daraa, injuring several people and destroying three tanks.
Increasing clashes between defectors and regular army forces might take Syria into a civil war, observers have warned.
The US, the European Union and the Arab League have increased pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to end violence in the country.
Arab foreign ministers are expected to meet this week to discuss Syria, Arab League Secretary General said on Sunday in Doha. However, an exact was not yet set for the meeting.
The Arab League had imposed economic sanctions on Damascus and said they would be lifted once Syria accept allowing monitors in the country. Syria set lifting the sanctions as a condition for agreeing to receive observers.
The United Nations says that at least 4,000 people have been killed in the government crackdown on protests calling for the ouster of al-Assad that started in March.
The government has blamed the uprising against al-Assad on armed gangs financed by Arab and Western countries.
Meanwhile, videos posted online showed shops closed and streets empty in the central province of Homs, the western city of Zabadani and the northern province of Aleppo.
The "Stay at Home" campaign also called on people to "stop supporting the regime by halting work."
Activists used loudspeakers overnight to urge people to join the strike in the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh, in the southern Daraa province.
They also called on people to boycott municipal elections scheduled for Monday.
Most independent media and humanitarian groups are barred from entering Syria. A few were allowed into Damascus after a government invitation, but are not allowed to move freely.