Conflict & Justice

Syria: Tanks pull back as Arab League monitors arrive in Homs


Violence continues in Homs, as 13 civilians were killed Saturday from tank fire.



Arab League monitors on Tuesday arrived in the restive Syrian city of Homs, a day after activists said at least 33 people were killed there.

More from GlobalPost: Syrian forces kill 23 with mortars and machine guns, activists claim

Activists confirmed that armored tanks had begun withdrawing from Homs early on Tuesday, Agence France Presse reported.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, early Tuesday 11 tanks left the Baba Amr district, where most of the casualties occurred on Monday.

Activist Mohammed Saleh told Reuters:

“My house is on the eastern entrance of Baba Amr. I saw at least six tanks leave the neighborhood at around 8 in the morning.”

However, Reuters also quoted Observatory activists claiming that some tanks remained hidden inside government buildings.

Syrian state television reported Tuesday that the observers, who are in the country to ensure the government complies with a regional peace plan, were in talks with the governor of Homs, Ghassan Abdel Al.

More from GlobalPost: Homs 'under attack by military tanks'

An advance group of 50 observers, headed by Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi, landed in Syria Monday to oversee an end to a crackdown on protests by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Al Jazeera reported.

Mahmoud Merei, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, told Bloomberg that in addition to Homs, the observers would visit Damascus, Idlib, Hama and Daraa – but said it was too early to say if they were being granted full access.

“It is their first day in the field ... We will be monitoring them closely.”

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed in Syria's crackdown since March. Damascus says it is fighting armed gangs.