Georgia says it controls most of South Ossetia

Georgia is claiming it has seized control of almost all the towns and villages in its breakaway republic of South Ossetia. It follows a major ground and air offensive involving fighter jets, tanks, heavy artillery and infantry. The capital Tskhinvali and

Georgia’s military action has sparked condemnation from Russia, which has warned of ‘emergency measures’ to end the conflict.

South Ossetia earlier said 15 people had been killed in attacks. Several buildings were reported to be on fire in the city centre after repeated Georgian shelling. The parliament building has been burned down.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said his country had ‘liberated’ South Ossetia from separatists, and that Russia was bombing Georgian villages.

South Ossetia declared independence after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, but Georgia rejected the move and an armed conflictensued.

Georgia later ordered a temporary ceasefire to allow civilians flee the conflict zone. The Red Cross asked for the moratoruim so it could distribute aid to those caught in the crossfire.