A group of about 50 Arab League observers arrived in Syria to begin monitoring implementation of a regional peace initiative.

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — The video was horrific. What appeared to be the bloodied and broken bodies of four men lay in a rubble-strewn street, near downed power lines and damaged cars.

“Where are the Arabs? Where is the international community?” a man’s voice yelled over women’s screams.

Opposition activists uploaded the video to YouTube on Monday, saying it was evidence of the carnage in parts of the western Syrian city of Homs on the day that a group of about 50 Arab League observers arrived in the country to begin monitoring implementation of a regional peace initiative.

In all, anti-government activists said, at least 20 people were killed Monday in heavy shelling and gunfire in Homs, which has been at the center of a nine-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Most international journalists have been barred from Syria, making it impossible to confirm the claims of either the government or opposition activists.

League officials said some of their monitors would head to Homs on Tuesday to get a firsthand look at the situation in Syria’s third-largest city.

Government officials have said that they expect the mission to confirm their contention that Syria is facing an armed insurgency with foreign backing.

The country’s main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council, has accused the Arab League of participating in a charade while the government steps up a bloody crackdown on mostly peaceful protests.

Violence has escalated in recent months as the government sends tanks and troops to subdue restive neighborhoods, and a growing number of military defectors join the ranks of the opposition. Some civilians have also taken up arms to defend their communities, raising fears that the country could slide into civil war.

The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed since the start of major antigovernment protests in March. One security-force member was killed and eight injured in clashes with “armed terrorist groups” in the southern province of Dara, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported Monday.

The Arab League had threatened to go to the U.N. Security Council if Syria did not admit its observers to monitor compliance with a league-negotiated peace plan calling for the withdrawal of security forces from the streets, the release of political prisoners and dialogue between the government and its foes.

In all, about 150 observers are expected to arrive in Syria by the end of the month.