Friday, August 8, 2008
The Caucasus teetered on the brink of all-out war today as Russia sent tanks and fighter jets into the breakaway region of South Ossetia to support it against an invasion by Georgia.
At least 15 civilians were reported to have been killed in heavy fighting in the province’s capital of Tskhinvali between separatist rebels and Georgian forces.
Georgia had attacked with aircraft and heavy artillery to regain control of the region and troops fired missiles into the city. Buildings were ablaze, and it was reported that a hospital was hit by Georgian shelling.
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TV pictures showed a convoy of more than 150 Russian tanks and armoured cars entering South Ossetia today. They were expected to reach the regional capital this afternoon as it was reported that the city had been ‘almost totally destroyed’.
Georgia also claimed to have shot down two Russian fighter planes over its territory.
Another official said Russian jets were also bombing a Georgian military airbase outside the capital,Tblisi.
The intense fighting was the worst outbreak of hostilities since the province won de-facto independence from Georgia in 1992 – raising fears of full-blown war in the volatile Caucasus, a vital energy transit route where Russia and the West vie for influence.
This article was posted: Friday, August 8, 2008 at 9:54 am