Russia's First Channel on Friday televised images of what it said were burning Georgian armoured vehicles in Tskhinvali, capital of the South Ossetian breakaway region of Georgia. Georgia launched a massive attack Friday to regain control over South Ossetia.
10 Russian peacekeepers killed; Georgia claims control of South Ossetia
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said in a television interview Friday that Russia is fighting a war with his country as tanks rolled into the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia.
"Russia is fighting war with us in our own territory," Saakashvili told CNN. "And we are in this situation of self-defence against our neighbour."
Russian military said that 10 of its peacekeepers were killed and 30 wounded in South Ossetia, but released few other details. South Ossetia has close ties with Russia, which has peacekeepers in the region, though Georgia alleges they back the separatists.
Saakashvili confirmed earlier reports from a Georgian official that Georgian forces have shot down two Russian combat aircraft.
Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said the planes were downed while Georgian territory was being raided, but did not provide further details.
Russia's Defence Ministry had denied an earlier Georgian report about one Russian plane being downed. There was no immediate comment on the latest claim, and neither country has issued an official declaration of war.
Hostilities erupted when Georgia launched a massive attack Friday to regain control of its breakaway province of South Ossetia, using heavy artillery, aircraft and armour. Later Friday, a Georgian cabinet minister said their troops were in control of South Ossetia's capital.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Georgia that its attack on the province would draw retaliation, and hours later, Russian TV reported, a convoy of Russian tanks rolled into South Ossetia.
Russian aircraft bombed Georgian villages: president
Separatist officials in South Ossetia said 15 civilians had been killed in fighting overnight after Georgia attacked. Georgian troops fired missiles at the provincial capital, Tskhinvali, an official said, and many buildings were on fire.
Saakashvili said in a televised statement that Russian aircraft bombed several Georgian villages and other civilian facilities. He said there were injuries and damage to the buildings.
Saakashvili also said his government's troops had seized the outskirts of Tskhinvali and were fighting for control of the centre. Georgian forces also have seized several villages around the capital.
In his televised address, Saakashvili announced a full military mobilization with reservists being called into action.
Worst fighting since 1992
Saakashvili long has pledged to restore Tbilisi's rule over South Ossetia and another breakaway province, Abkhazia. Both regions have run their own affairs without international recognition since splitting from Georgia in the early 1990s, and both have built up ties with Moscow.
Most residents of both provinces have Russian passports. An open war could prompt Russia to send in more forces under the claim of protecting its citizens. Friday's fighting was the worst outburst of hostilities in the regions since they won a de-facto independence in a war that ended in 1992.
Russia was criticized by the West for provoking tensions by sending warplanes over South Ossetia last month.
Most of South Ossetia, which is roughly 1.5 times the size of Luxembourg, has been under the control of an internationally unrecognized separatist government since 1992. Georgian forces hold several swaths of it.
Relations between Georgia and Russia worsened notably this year as Georgia pushed to join NATO and Russia dispatched additional peacekeepers to Abkhazia.