Source AP ©

South Ossetia downs Georgian spy plane

The interior minister of the separatist-held Georgian region of South Ossetia says his forces have shot down an unmanned Georgian spy plane.

Mikhail Mindzayev said the drone was shot down over South Ossetia on Thursday by local forces. Mindzayev said it had crossed into South Ossetia from the south, meaning it was of Georgian origin.

A Georgian official denied that the country had sent any drone over South Ossetia. Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili says Mindzayev is "seeing things."

South Ossetia, with Russia's support, has fought to become independent of Georgia. Russia on Monday recognized the region as an independent nation.

Russian forces have turned over 12 Georgian soldiers on the border of one of the separatist provinces that are now under Russian control.

The release along the Inguri River that separates Abkhazia from Georgia proper was a small gesture of cooperation amid the high tensions following the end of open hostilities between Georgia and Russia.

The soldiers had been captured in Georgia's port city of Poti on Aug. 18 and driven away in trucks blindfolded and handcuffed. During Thursday's handover, the soldiers appeared unharmed and some were smiling.

Ten had been released earlier.