Bilal Hussein, Associated Press
A Syrian Kurdish boy carries a banner during a protest outside the Arab League office in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011. The protesters said the Arab League was not serious in attempts to stop the Syrian regime crackdown. A man behind the boy was carrying a poster of President Bashar Assad of Syria.

BEIRUT — Syrian opposition activists say the army has begun withdrawing tanks from the restive city of Homs after days of assaults and just as an Arab League observer mission arrives in the country.

Mohammed Saleh says the heavy bombardment of the central city stopped Tuesday morning and tanks were seen pulling out of the streets.

Another Homs-based activist says he saw armored vehicles leaving early Tuesday on a highway that leads to the city of Palmyra to the east. He asked that his name not be made public for fear of retribution.

For days, military forces had pounded Homs with artillery despite agreeing to an Arab League plan to stop the bloodshed.

The Arab monitoring mission is meant to ensure the government complies with the deal to halt the nine-month crackdown.