(BBC) Syrian forces in Lebanon have begun moving back towards the Syrian border, as part of a major redeployment.
Troops dismantled bases south-east of Beirut, before regrouping and heading towards the eastern Bekaa Valley.
The move comes three weeks after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution urging Syria to withdraw from Lebanon.
It is unclear whether the redeployment will lead to the full withdrawal of about 17,000 Syrian troops, which have been based in the country since 1976.
Lebanese Defence Minister Mahmoud Hammoud said after talks with top Syrian defence officials that the redeployment indicated “the security situation in Lebanon is becoming more stabilised”, AP news agency reported.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is due to present a report to the Security Council on compliance with Resolution 1559 in two weeks’ time.
The resolution – sponsored by the US and France – called for Lebanon’s political independence to be respected and demanded the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country – a request repeated last week by US envoy William Burns.
Lebanon had rejected the resolution as interference in its internal affairs and said its close relations with Syria would not change.
The BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Beirut says neither Lebanese nor Syrian officials made any mention of Resolution 1559 and that unless the redeployment was a prelude to a withdrawal, it is unlikely that the move will satisfy the UN.
The United States has recently stepped up pressure on Syria to pull its forces out of Lebanon and stop supporting Islamic militant groups there.
Syria first sent troops into Lebanon in 1976, at the beginning of the civil war there.
Most of the forces stayed on in the country after the conflict ended in 1990.