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.

The Russians made the move in a buffer zone around South Ossetia and in western Georgia, after warnings by Georgian and US officials that Moscow might try to delay the pull-back following a Friday bomb attack.

"Our observers went to the checkpoint in Ali, northwest of Gori, and saw that it has been dismantled," a spokesman of the European Union mission monitoring the withdrawal told AFP.

"This is the first dismantled checkpoint," which was in the Ali district''s village of Nabakhtevi, he said.

The head of the EU mission, German diplomat Hansjorg Haber, confirmed the Russian withdrawal and expressed confidence that Moscow will respect its pledge to pull its troops out from Georgia by October 10.