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Arab League monitors in Syria say they saw “nothing frightening” during their visit to the city of Homs on Tuesday – a flashpoint for much of the clashes between protesters and government forces.

Head of the delegation of observers, Sudanese General Mustafa Dabi described the situation as “reassuring so far” even though some areas are “a bit of a mess”.

This assessment is worrying pro-democracy groups, who believe the monitors are only being shown limited areas during short, restricted tours controlled by the government. According to reports from activists, six people were killed by security forces in Homs on Tuesday.

President Bashar al-Assad claims to be keeping his deal with the Arab League by releasing more than 750 prisoners. Monitors will also visit other cities where violence has taken place including Idlib and Deraa.

One of the areas observers are due to reach by Wednesday evening or Thursday is Hama, where amateur footage shows hundreds attending the funeral of a protester on Tuesday. Reliable accounts on the true situation remain hard to come by as foreign media are banned from reporting in Syria.

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