9 Aug 2008

Russian forces enter capital of South Ossetia

6:03 am on 9 August 2008

Russia has sent forces into Georgia as a Georgian assault continues on its breakaway South Ossetia region.

Georgia's pro-Western president Mikheil Saakashvili says it is at war with Russia and has called on the United States to help.

Georgia says the operation is aimed at ending the de facto independence South Ossetia won in a war in 1991-92.

A senior Russian military commander said on Friday that army units were approaching the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, where there is fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Georgian forces.

The rebels say at least 1400 people have been killed in the capital, many of them civilians.

Meanwhile, there are reports Russian jets have bombed a military airbase outside the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

The United States on Friday urged an immediate ceasefire. NATO and the European Union called for a halt to the fighting.

The White House says President George Bush discussed the situation with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Beijing, at the opening of the Olympic Games.