The Russian troops started dismantling posts in the buffer zone around South Ossetia and Abkhazia to meet the Friday deadline for their withdrawal from Georgia's territory, the Itar-Tass news agency reported on Sunday.
Russia begins removing its checkpoints. Russian forces in Georgia removed a first checkpoint Sunday and began dismantling others as part of an expected troop pull-back after August's war over the South Ossetia rebel region. [Chinadaily.com.cn via Agencies]
"Indeed, we started withdrawing material property and dismantling defense barriers at peacekeeping observer posts, put up on the southern border in the security zone, adjoining South Ossetia," Igor Konashenkov, the assistant to the commander-in-chief of the Land Troops, was quoted as saying.
Georgia launched a sudden attack against South Ossetia on Aug. 8 to reclaim control over the region. Russia sent in troops the next day and defeated the Georgian forces.
The military conflict was halted on Aug. 12 by a France-brokered ceasefire pact, under which Moscow promised to pull back its troops.
A follow-up agreement set a timetable for the withdrawal of Russian troops as well as the deployment of foreign observer missions. The agreement obliged Russia to pull its troops out of the territory of Georgia by Oct. 10.
Moscow recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia's two breakaway regions, as independent states on Aug. 26.
(Xinhua News Agency October 6, 2008)