The Syrian soldiers left through the Jdaidit Yabus post, 40km west of Damascus and 70km east of Beirut, on Saturday morning. UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen is expected the same day in Damascus to press Syrian President Bashar al-Asad for a rapid withdrawal of troops from neighbouring Lebanon. 

Late on Friday the Syrian army had evacuated all its positions in northern Lebanon except for six known intelligence positions, according to a Lebanese military source. 

In the mountains overlooking Beirut, the army had just about completed its withdrawal to Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley.

Witnesses

Invited by the Syrian Information Ministry to verify the Syrian
military pullout from Lebanon, journalists saw 36 trucks, most of them covered, crossing the frontier to be welcomed by a cheering crowd waving Syrian flags and shouting pro-al-Asad slogans. 

Led by military police motorcyclists, eight big buses, each
capable of carrying 60 soldiers, plus a minibus also crossed the border along with 11 Jeeps carrying officers. Two armoured troop transporters were carried on trailers. 

The convoy, moving slowly through the snow, took about 45
minutes to pass through Jdaidit Yabus.

Russia urges pullout

Also on Saturday, Russia advocated a withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, including intelligence units, despite having abstained on a Security Council resolution demanding the pullout.

But Moscow is reluctant to take punitive action against Syria if it does not pull out quickly, its UN ambassador Andrei Denisov said on Friday. "I don't know if that makes sense," he said.