The Pakistan army says it's withdrawing troops from the area where Usama bin Laden (search) and a top aide are believed to be hiding.

The withdrawals from the region near the Afghanistan border follow intense military operations by thousands of troops against remnants of bin Laden's Al Qaeda (search) organization and its allies.

The top Pakistan general in the region says the army is removing checkpoints in return for local tribesmen's support against foreign militants. He adds that some Pakistani soldiers will remain nearby.

Although the tribal region is considered a possible hiding place for bin Laden and his deputy, a senior Pakistan general has said there's been no sign of them.

But earlier this month, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command said it was "essential" that Pakistan continue military operations in the area.