Russia joins South Ossetian war

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Friday, August 8, 2008

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The above file photo (2004) shows a sniper taking aim at Ossetian rebels in South Ossetia to allow the Georgian Army forces to move forward Photograph: Jonathan Alpeyrie

The War in South Ossetia has escalated as Russian forces are being sent into the conflict on the Ossetian side.

At 10:00 a.m. local time, Georgian sources reported that three Russian Su-24 attack aircraft invaded Georgian air space and dropped bombs onto a target near the town of Kareli. A later flight dropped one bomb near Gori. While no one was harmed in the second attack, seven people were reportedly injured by the first bombing. According to the Agence France-Presse, a speaker of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called this information "nonsense" and "rubbish".

Map of Georgia; Southern Ossetia is marked in grey.
Image: Urmas.

At 11:38 a.m. the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili announced the mobilization of reserve troops to withstand what he called "a large-scale military aggression" by Russia, and called Russia to stop the "bombardment of Georgian towns."

Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin said that, "it is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia."

The crisis broke out after days of heavy fighting in the region. On August 7 Georgian troops launched an offensive against the Ossetian town of Tskhinvali, the separatist's capital.

The Georgian government claims that this is in reaction to attacks by "separatist rebels" on "unarmed civilians and peacekeeping forces" in villages near the town.

At the same time, the state news agency of South Ossetia reports that that Tskhinvali is under heavy artillery fire, with most or all of its population seeking shelter, and apparently a number of buildings already having been destroyed. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged the two sides to set up a "humanitarian corridor" to evacuate civilians and the wounded. The main city hospital is reported not to be functioning, and ambulances can not reach the wounded. Thousands of refugees are leaving South Ossetia, mostly for North Ossetia, says the United Nations refugee agency.

Georgian officials have claimed that up to four Russian jets have been shot down while attacking Georgia.

Russia claimed ceasing all civilian aircraft flights to Georgia starting at midnight on August 9. In retaliatory response, Georgia is set to stop all Russian TV channels' broadcasts from August 9th onwards.

According to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reporting at 9:21pm August 8th, a convoy of 20 vans carrying up to a total of 400 Russian volunteers has crossed from Russia's North Ossetia to South Ossetia.

The government of South Ossetia has announced that it will evacuate children in danger zones to Russia. This came after a speech made by Eduard Kokoity, President of South Ossetia, which accused the Georgian government of "attempting to spark a full-scale war." Kokoity said that the conflict's victim count has reached 1400.

As of 10:51pm August 8th, 12 Russian peacemakers are reported dead and 150 wounded.

A video tape showing Georgian Su-25 aircraft being downed was aired on Vesti Russian TV channel late night of August 8th. The pilot of the jet reportedly ejected, but was captured and killed on the ground by Ossetian military.


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