MISHA DZHINDZHIKHASHVILI
August 9, 2008

GORI, Georgia (AP) – Fighting raged in South Ossetia for a second day Saturday as Russia sent hundreds of tanks and troops into the separatist province and dropped bombs on Georgia that left scores of civilians dead or wounded.

Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally, launched a major offensive Friday to retake control of breakaway South Ossetia. Russia, which has close ties to the province and posts peacekeepers there, responded by sending in armed convoys and military combat aircraft.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that some 1,500 people have been killed, with the death toll rising Saturday.

The figure could not be independently confirmed, but witnesses who fled the fighting said hundreds of civilians had probably died. They said most of the provincial capital, Tskhinvali, was in ruins, with bodies lying everywhere.

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