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7:46am UK, Thursday December 29, 2011
Violence has escalated across Syria as the Arab League observers continue their mission to find signs of a brutal crackdown on protests.
Activists claim troops opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, killing at least six.
The Arab League began their one-month mission on Tuesday, starting in the city of Homs where scores of protesters have died.
They were greeted by angry crowds who feel the Arab League’s presence is doing nothing to bring an end to the violence.
They spent two days visiting problem districts of Baba Amr, Bab Sbaa and Inshaat.
Today, the monitors will move out of Homs. Among the places they are expected to visit is Hama, which on Wednesday was the scene of more violence. Protesters were hit by tear gas at an anti-government rally and one person was reported to have died.
Leading the delegation: Sudanese General Mustafa al Dabi
Some of the observers will also travel south to the city of Deraa, another flashpoint for violent protests.
The clashes come as activists and human rights groups voiced concern over whether the Sudanese general leading the Arab League mission is an appropriate choice.
They claim his own defiance of a war crimes tribunal relating to Darfur means he may not display balanced judgement.
But the Arab League has said it is confident that the experience of General Mustafa al Dabi will enable him to assess the situation in Syria properly.
Gen Dabi, who is leading the 150-strong delegation to Syria, said: “Yesterday was quiet and there were no clashes.
“We did not see tanks but we did see some armoured vehicles. But remember, this was only the first day and it will need investigation.
“We have 20 people who will be there for a long time.”
But Ausama Monajed, from the main opposition group Syrian National Council, said: “This (Arab League) mission has absolutely no mandate, no authority, no teeth.
“The regime does not feel obliged to even bring down the number of casualties a day.”