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Georgia disputes control of South Ossetian capital

AP and Reuters [1]
Saturday, Aug 9, 2008

Russia said it had driven Georgian forces from the capital of South Ossetia on Saturday in an operation to force Georgian troops out of the breakaway region, but Tbilisi denied the claim.

Russian warplanes widened the offensive outside the immediate conflict zone to include strikes deep inside Georgia on the second day of fighting that threatens international oil and gas pipelines that bypass Russia.

Russian officials said the death toll now stood at 1,500 and 30,000 refugees from South Ossetia had fled to Russia over the past 36 hours. Russia said two of its warplanes had been shot down and 12 of its soldiers had been killed.

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Russia’s military response to the crisis dramatically intensified a long-running stand-off between Russia and the pro-Western Georgian leadership that has sparked alarm in the West and led to angry exchanges at the United Nations reminiscent of the Cold War.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said he would ask parliament to approve the introduction of martial law.

Russia accused the West of contributing to the violence by supplying Georgia with arms.

Full article here [1]