Syrian authorities have reportedly agreed to replace secret police with army patrols in Banias, scene of a recent crackdown on anti-government protesters.
As part of a deal struck in Damascus with prominent figures from the Mediterranean port, they are also said to have freed hundreds of people rounded up earlier this week as the town was sealed off.
But despite the apparent concessions, many of those detained claim they have been tortured, according to human rights campaigners, while others insist they took no part in protests.
Unrest that began in Deraa a few weeks ago has spread to other towns. Human rights groups say 200 people have died.
In Aleppo in the north, students marched on Wednesday demanding political freedoms.
Activists say they were quickly dispersed by Baath party supporters who organised their own demonstration. Several anti-government protesters were reportedly beaten.
Despite the protests, the unrest in Syria has not reached the scale of the uprisings that toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.