Russia Takes Breakaway Capital in Georgian Fighting

Death toll in Georgian conflict reaches 1,500
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 9, 2008 5:55 AM CDT
A burning apartment building damaged by a Russian airstrike is seen the northern Georgian town of Gori, on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008.    (AP Photo/George Abdaladze)
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(Newser) – Russia claims to have taken control of South Ossetia’s capital today, after Georgian troops flowed into the breakaway enclave yesterday in an effort to reclaim the region. Seeking to “force the Georgian side to peace,” Russia has expanded its counterattack further into Georgia. Russia puts the death toll at 1,500, with some 30,000 from South Ossetia fleeing to Russia, Reuters reports.

"The town is destroyed. There are many casualties, many wounded," a Russian journalist told Reuters from Tskhinvali. In the Georgian town of Gori, five civilians were killed when an apartment building was bombed by Russian jets. Russia doesn’t want a full-scale war with Georgia, its foreign minister said. “Our peacekeepers and reinforcement units are responsible for protecting the population," said Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. "That's what we are doing now.”