Georgia's leader is calling for an immediate cease-fire in the breakaway
region of South Ossetia. Russian warplanes carried out new airstrikes against
Georgian military targets Saturday, as fighting between the two sides reportedly
spread to another disputed region. Emma Stickgold reports from
President Mikhail Saakashvili called for an end to the fighting Saturday,
shortly before getting approval from the Georgian parliament to declare a 15-day
period of martial law.
South Ossetia's capital Tskinvali was in ruins as
the region entered its second day of fighting between separatists and Georgian
forces. At the same time, officials reported Russian warplanes hit targets in
the breakaway region of Abkhazia.
Georgia had launched an offensive
Friday to retake control of breakaway South Ossetia from separatists. Russia,
which has close ties to the province, responded by sending troops to protect
civilians and force a cease-fire.
The countries disagree on whether
Georgia has gained control of the region. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
said there was little doubt that Georgia had taken over.
Georgia was in full control of Tskinvali, adding that the city has been cleaned
of bandit gangs. He noted that the city has suffered great damage from
crossfire, while Russian planes bombed the city.
As Russian tanks and
armored personnel carriers rumbled through the streets, evacuees expressed fear
and uncertainty about the future. Irina, a passenger at an airport terminal who
did not give her last name, lamented the current state of affairs.
says she believes the violence was not necessary. She says she has sympathy for
the Georgian people because her husband is there. She says she is also emotional
for Russians because her mother there.
The recent spate of violence is
the worst to break out since the region won de facto independence in 1992. South
Ossetians are eager to join fellow Ossetians in North Ossetia, which was
included within Russian borders following the collapse of the Soviet Union in