Syrian tanks fired heavy machineguns at a residential district in the city of Homs on Thursday, activists and a resident said, a day after the government agreed to pull the military out of cities as part of an Arab League initiative to end unrest.

The firing on Bab Amro, a hotbed of protests demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad and lately, scene of operations by troops against insurgents hiding there, followed overnight street rallies celebrating the Arab initiative, they said.

Syrian authorities have banned most independent media, making it difficult to verify events on the ground.