Georgia battles separatists in South Ossetia
Georgia declared a cease-fire following an outburst of heavy fighting with separatist forces in the breakaway region of South Ossetia Aug. 7. Georgia is blaming Russia for the escalation of violence. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said in televised remarks: "The Russian peacekeeping forces told us several hours ago that they have totally lost control over the separatist forces. We are in permanent contact with the Russian Foreign Ministry, but it fails to convince the separatist[s] to cease fire." Moscow has not yet responded to the claim.
The Georgian Interior Ministry claimed Ossetian separatists started shelling two Georgian-controlled villages, Nuli and Avnevi, after an earlier barrage over the weekend. Three soldiers were also injured when an Ossetian grenade destroyed an armored personnel carrier in Avnevi, the ministry said. South Ossetia's separatist government, in turn, claimed that Georgian forces had attacked the Ossetian village of Khetagurovo from Avnevi—as well as shelling the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. (EurasiaNet, Aug. 7)
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