Since the invasion yesterday by Russia into the state of South Ossetia the ratchet has now been increased so much so that Georgia has now declared that a state of war now exists between the two countries.
The death toll is estimated to be between 100 and 1600 depending on the sources.
Inna Gagloyeva, the spokeswoman for the South Ossetian Information and Press Committee, told the Interfax news agency the capital was being “massively shelled” with artillery guns.
It was also unclear which side was in control of Tskhinvali on Saturday, with the Georgian side saying fighting still raged but the Russians saying they have “liberated” the city.
“Battalion task forces have fully liberated Tskhinvali of Georgian armed forces and started pushing Georgian units out of the area of responsibility of the peacekeeping forces,” said General Vladimir Boldyrev, commander of the Russian Ground Forces, in an interview with Interfax.
So far it is known that two Russian aircraft have been shot down.
All information is very sketchy at this point.
The Russian action was said to have started when Russian separatists in South Ossetia bombarded Georgian troops with the casualty figure unknown. Georgia retaliated on Friday which then led to the Russian invasion on the pretext that they were peace-keepers.
Medvedev said Saturday that Georgia must be held responsible for the situation in South Ossetia.
“The people responsible for this humanitarian disaster need to be held liable for what they have done,” Medvedev said. He said the humanitarian problems were caused by “the aggression launched by the Georgian side against the South Ossetian civilians and Russian peacekeepers.”
Russian officials said more than 30,000 refugees have left South Ossetia and crossed into Russia over the past two days, since fighting began, Interfax reported.
From the BBC:
“Tactical groups have fully liberated Tskhinvali from the Georgian military and have started pushing Georgian units beyond the zone of peacekeepers’ responsibility,” he [Gen Vladimir Boldyrev] said, after paratroopers were airlifted into the city.
But the secretary of the Georgian National Security Council, Khakha Lomaia, insisted that the city remained “under the complete control of our troops”.
Tskhinvali, where inhabitants are said to be sheltering in basements without electricity or phone lines, is reported to be devastated. The International Red Cross (ICRC) said it had received reports that hospitals in the city were “overflowing” with casualties.