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Syrian forces fire on crowd in Damascus

At least one reported dead as Syrian forces shoot into funeral gathering.

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Members of the Free Syrian Army hold up their weapons in Syria's northwest on February 18, 2012. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian opposition activists say security forces killed at least one person and wounded several others when they fired into a large crowd of anti-government protesters in Damascus today, Reuters reported

The crowd, reported to be in the thousands, had gathered to mourn the deaths of three young people killed in a Friday protest against the rule of hardline President Bashar al-Assad, said the Assciated Press. Assad is battling a nearly year-long uprising against his rule with violence that has prompted international outrage. 

More from GlobalPost: Razan Ghazzawi, Syrian blogger, arrested: activists

The protest in Damascus came a day after the arrival of Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun to the capital, where he called on both the opposition and the government to "stop acts of violence," CBS reported. While there, Jun also announced that China backs plans for a referendum that would pave the way for parliamentary elections in a bid for political stability.

China, an ally of Assad and a veto-weilding member of the UN Security Council, has not supported proposed UN Security Council resolutions condemning the violence in the small gulf country. Beijing also voted against Thursday's nonbinding UN General Assembly resolution condeming the use of violence against protesters in Syria, the Associated Press reported

Also today, NBC reported that US spy drones are monitoring developments in Syria

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 Syrians have been killed and thousands more arrested since the unrest began. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120218/at-least-one-killed-syrian-forces-fire-crowd