The UN estimates 2,600 people have been killed since the crackdown started in Syria 

Syria's security forces have killed nine people, including a woman and a 12-year-old boy, in the Sahl al-Hawla district in Homs province, activists have said.

The boy was reportedly shot while making his way back from school and more than 20 other people were injured.

Security forces also opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators in the towns of Qusayr and Talbisseh in Homs, and carried out arrests in the second city Aleppo, eastern Deir ez-Zor and the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

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The Syrian uprising began in mid-March, amid the wave of protests in the Arab world that have toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Bashar al-Assad has responded with force in a crackdown that the UN estimates has killed about 2,600 people.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accused Syria of "crimes against humanity" on Monday and slammed the UN Security Council for failing to take a strong stand on the government's crackdown.

Juppe's remarks came as three Syrian pro-democracy groups announced they had formed a coalition, the third of its kind in the past week.

The 'Ghad' Democratic Coalition said the uprising should be non-violent and free of sectarianism.

Source: Agencies