Georgia says its troops 'have left S Ossetia'

Sun, Aug 10 06:10 PM

Vinay Shukla Moscow, Aug 10 (PTI) Georgia today said its troops have withdrawn from the breakaway province of South Ossetia and that Russian forces are in control of its capital, Tskhinvali. "Georgian troops have fully left South Ossetia" Georgia's Internal Affairs Ministry spokesman, Shota Utiashvili was quoted as saying in reports from Tbilisi.

However, Russia has rejected claims that Georgian troops have left South Ossetia after failing to take control of the breakaway republic. A Russian military spokesman said Georgia had not withdrawn its forces and the situation remained tense.

Georgia did not remove its forces from South Ossetia," said Vladimir Ivanov, Russian peacekeeping force's spokesman. "Our observation posts have spotted Georgian law-enforcement units, as well as artillery and armoured vehicles," he said.

"Following the air strikes, Tskhinvali is virtually obliterated. In these conditions our forces have relocated and assumed new positions," Aleksandr Lomaya, the Secretary of Georgia's National Security Council, was quoted as saying by Russia Today TV. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who directly flew to the neighbouring Russian region of North Ossetia from Beijing, seems to be in the driver's seat in tackling the situation and relief operations.

The current fighting began three days ago when Georgian forces launched a surprise attack to regain control of South Ossetia, which has had de facto independence since the end of a civil war in 1992. Putin declared that Georgia by its military offensive has dashed the hopes of the restoration of its territorial integrity, 'no body can now force South Ossetia and Abkhazia to return to the fold of Georgian sovereignty.

' PTI.

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