South Ossetia says will retaliate if Georgia continues with attacks

South Ossetia's leader said on Thursday the breakaway republic will attack Georgian troops if they continue to shell Tskhinvali and nearby villages or attempt to seize its territory.

The conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia intensified last Friday night when Georgian forces shelled the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, leaving six South Ossetians dead and another 15 wounded. Sporadic shelling and skirmishes have continued through the week.

"We are prepared to end [Georgian] attempts to annex our territory," Eduard Kokoity told reporters. "If the shelling does not stop ... we will start 'to mop up' plateaus where Georgian troops are stationed."

He said retaliatory attacks could be launched as early as this afternoon.

Kokoity said Georgia had amassed most of its heavy weaponry in the conflict zone and attempted to seize high ground over a strategically important road overnight.

"Our intelligence spotted a convoy of at least 20 tanks and a large number of self-propelled artillery," he said, adding that at least 26 152-mm howitzers had been deployed earlier by Georgia near Tskhinvali and had been fired at South Ossetian territory.

[Source: Russian Information Agency Novosti, Tskhinvali, 07Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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