South Ossetia clashes intensify

Other News Materials 9 August 2008 11:47 (UTC +04:00)

Fierce fighting between Russian and Georgian troops is continuing in the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia, reports say.

Georgia says it is in control of the regional capital, Tskhinvali, battling Russian forces on the outskirts, BBC reported.

Georgia's government has accused Moscow of bombing three Georgian military bases and the Black Sea city of Poti.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has failed to agree on the wording of a statement calling for a ceasefire.

Russia holds a permanent place on the Council, and has the power of veto over any official statements that it regards as unfair or inaccurate.

Permanent members Britain, the US and France, are pinpointing what they say is Russia's aggression as the key factor in the slide towards war, while Moscow insists Georgia is to blame.

After days of exchanging heavy fire with the Russian-backed separatists, Georgian forces moved on Thursday night to regain control of the region, which has had de facto independence since a war against Georgia that ended in 1992.

In response, Moscow sent armoured units across the border. Russia says 15 of its soldiers are dead, and separatists estimate that 1,400 civilians have died.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said 30 Georgians had been killed in two days of fighting.