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7 Aug, 2008 05:17

Georgian tanks head for South Ossetia

Georgia is reportedly moving tanks, artillery and troops to the border with its breakaway republic of South Ossetia. It follows days of shelling and skirmishes between the sides. Russia is leading diplomatic efforts to stop a full-scale conflict.

South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity said military scouts have detected about 20 tanks and a large number of other guns near the border.

Early on Thursday, he said, Georgia shelled the South Ossetian villages of Pris, Dmenis, and Sarabuk using artillery guns.

“The shelling caused very significant damages in Dmenis, and a number of civilians have been wounded,” Kokoity said.

There was a 40-minute lull in the violence after Russian peacekeepers intervened. However, the two sides continued to exchange fire later.

Meanwhile, the command of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the conflict zone is holding ceasefire negotiations with the parties.

Vladimir Ivanov, aide to the commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces, said everything possible was being done to end the fighting.
“The command of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces is working with the parties to the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict with the aim of relieving tensions and preventing the firing,” Ivanov said.

Ivanov added that the situation is currently calm in the conflict zone, and no gunfire is being observed.