A top general says Russian forces will begin their withdrawal from a buffer zone in Georgia on Wednesday and be out within 24 hours.

Russia must pull out of territory surrounding the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Friday under agreements reached after its war with Georgia.

The head of Russian peacekeeping troops based in South Ossetia says they will begin to withdraw on Wednesday and complete the pullback within 24 hours. He did not specifically mention the troops remaining outside Abkhazia.

Maj. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov spoke Tuesday at the base of the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia`s separatist capital, Tskhinvali.

Russian forces have been packing up and dismantling posts outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia in recent days.

AP via International Herald Tribune