Syria has admitted planting land mines along parts of the country's border with Lebanon as refugees stream out of the country to escape the crackdown on anti-government protests.
The exodus to neighbouring Lebanon and Turkey has proven a deep embarrassment for increasingly besieged president Bashar Assad, who warned over the weekend that the Middle East will burn if foreign powers try to intervene in his country's conflict.
A Syrian official claimed the mines were meant to prevent arms smuggling into Syria.
Many Syrians cross the border into Lebanon regularly, some of them to flee the violence in their country.
The land mines are the latest in a number of signs that Syria is working to prevent Lebanon from becoming a safe haven for the Syrian opposition.
There have been at least three cases this year of Syrian dissidents being snatched off the streets in Lebanon and spirited back across the border.
The abductions have raised alarm among some in Lebanon that members of the country's security forces are helping Assad's regime in its crackdown on anti-government protesters, effectively extending it into Lebanon.
A senior Lebanese security official confirmed that Syrian troops were planting mines on the Syrian side of the border, but insisted Beirut will not interfere with actions taking place on Syrian territory.
“What concerns us are violations of Lebanese territories and Syrian troops’ pursuit of people on this side of the border,” the official said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Syria and Lebanon share a 230-mile border, although it appears the land mines have been planted in several small areas in Homs province — where some of the worst violence of the uprising has occurred — and Irsal in the Baalbek region, which borders Homs and Damascus countryside.
Dissident Syrian army defectors are also based in Turkey and have said they are launching raids into the country to destabilise the regime.
Turkey and Syria were formerly close allies but that relationship has deteriorated since the crackdown on anti-government protests.