Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday said his country's peacekeepers had begun a military operation against Georgian forces in South Ossetia, news agencies reported.
"Our peacekeepers and units subordinate to them are now carrying out an operation to force the Georgian side to peace," Medvedev was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti at a Kremlin meeting with Russia's defence minister and the chief of Russia's armed forces.
Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday that three of its peacekeeping troops had died in South Ossetia overnight, bringing to 15 the total number killed.
"Another three died in overnight attacks. Altogether 15 peacekeepers have been killed," Russian ground forces spokesman German Zhitenyov told AFP.
Russia and its pro-West neighbour Georgia engaged in fierce fighting on Saturday in the disputed region of South Ossetia, reports said, as the international community scrambled to prevent an all-out war.