Russian tanks have entered South Ossetia. A correspondent of Russia’s Channel 1 TV company said that South Ossetian troops had launched a counteroffensive and unblocked the Zarskaya road, which connects the republic with Russia. A column of Russian tanks is traveling on the road, the correspondent said.
Interfax news agency reported with reference to eye-witnesses that a Russian military column had entered South Ossetia.
The Zarskaya road, which encircles S.Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, has been cleared of Georgian troops, ITAR-TASS reports.
Russia's Defense Ministry says it has sent troops to back up peacekeepers deployed to the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia.
The ministry said in an official statement carried by Russian news wires that the troops will help protect Russian peacekeepers and local residents in South Ossetia. Most of South Ossetia's residents have Russian citizenship.
The ministry didn't say how many additional troops and weapons were sent.
Channel 1 television has shown a convoy of Russian tanks entering South Ossetia and says the tanks are expected to reach the provincial capital in a few hours.
Georgian officials have confirmed that the Russian convoy crossed the border and is advancing toward Tskhinvali.
An official spokesperson for the Russian Ground Troops said that the military command was awaiting politicians’ decision and therefore withheld comments. The official said that the Defense Ministry of Russia would release an official statement on the situation in South Ossetia within the next few hours.
In the meantime, Georgian troops continue to storm Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. Several infantry companies have already entered the city and occupied several districts in it, Georgia’ Rustavi 2 TV company says.
The building of the university of South Ossetia has been engulfed in flames. The building is located some 500 meters far from peacemaking headquarters.
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