Georgia and Russia stood at the brink of an all-out conflict August 8, after Georgian Interior Ministry units opened a campaign to retake the separatist territory of South Ossetia. Civilians were scrambling to escape the conflict zone, amid reports that Russian armor and aircraft had entered the conflict.
Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze has said that the government will continue the campaign against South Ossetian separatists until "a durable peace" can be established in the breakaway region. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Tbilisi claims that the fighting began in the early hours of August 8 after South Ossetian separatists attacked two nearby villages and peacekeeper posts, leaving several dead and wounded. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had offered a cease-fire the night before.
"To protect [the] peaceful civilian population and stop [the] military attack, [the] Government of Georgia was forced to take adequate measures," an official statement reads.
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Elizabeth Owen is EurasiaNets Caucasus news editor in Tbilisi. This story contains reporting from Paul Rimple.