Syrian forces shot dead three people in Homs on Monday as crowds welcomed a United Nations humanitarian team, activists said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces and loyalist gunmen known as "shabiha" opened fire on hundreds of people who had taken to the streets of Homs to greet the UN team, which has been granted access to assess humanitarian needs after five months of protest and repression.
A video footage broadcast on Al Jazeera television showed a crowd of people thronging around a car, chanting: "The people want the overthrow of the regime" and holding signs saying "SOS" and "We will never give up until we get our freedom".
Presiden Bashar Assad, speaking to Syrian television on Sunday night, said that Syria would not bow to external pressure, which he said could only affect "a president made in the US and a subservient people who get their orders from outside".
"Any action against Syria will have greater consequences (on those who carry it out), greater than they can tolerate," he said.