BEIRUT (AP) -- Activists say Syrian forces have attacked two towns as a deadline passed for President Bashar Assad's troops to start withdrawing from populated areas in the kickoff to an internationally brokered truce deal.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it saw no signs of large-scale troop pullback Tuesday and that most areas of Syria appeared calm. This is a sharp contrast to heavy attacks by Syrian forces on restive towns in recent days.
However, activists reported shelling in the northern village of Marea and mortar fire in the city of Homs.
A collapse of the truce deal by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan could move Syria closer to an all-out civil war. A 13-month uprising has turned increasingly violent in response to a brutal regime crackdown.