Senior Arab officials visiting Syria pressed President Bashar Assad on Wednesday to start a dialogue with the opposition, hours after tens of thousands packed a Damascus square to show support for their embattled leader, state TV reported. The Arab ministerial committee led by Qatar's prime minister began a meeting with Assad later in the afternoon, but prospects for the mission's success were dim. The opposition's refuses any dialogue with the regime, particularly while it continues its military crackdown on protesters, which the U.N. says has killed 3,000 people since March. Activists said at least nine civilians were killed Wednesday in military operations across the country, six of them in the flashpoint central city of Homs. The Arab officials' visit follows a meeting in Cairo last week by the 22-nation Arab League, which gave Syria until the end of the month to end military operations, release detainees arrested in the crackdown, and start a dialogue with the opposition.