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On Ossetia, Denials by Khalilzad of Foreign Fighters, by Yerevan of Russian Planes in Armenian Bases

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 11 -- Propaganda or underground truth, on the sidelines of conflict in South Ossetia, Russian media has been reporting that foreign fighters, including Americans, were found among the dead in Tskhinvali. Russia Today quoted South Ossetia's Eduard Kokoity that "Ukrainians and mercenaries from the Baltics as well as nationals from other countries were involved in the fighting, as 'foreigners have been found among their bodies.'" South Ossetia's envoy to Russia was quoted that "in yesterday's most recent tank attack, the advancing tanks were supposedly crewed by Ukrainians. Two unidentified bodies found today... Americans... who were probably either mercenaries or instructors in the Georgian armed forces."

  Against this backdrop, Inner City Press on Monday afternoon asked the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad, Russian media is reporting that foreign fighters including Americans were involved in Tskhinvali. "Some say this is propaganda, some say this is true. What do you say?"  Video here, from Minute 8:44.

  Khalilzad answered that "we hear a lot of propaganda. We've heard the U.S. gave the green light to this operation... I have nothing specific with regard to these report, but I would not conclude that they are true. We did not have any prior knowledge or were not consulted by Georgia." He encouraged agnosticism as to what happened on August 6, that one "not necessarily buy the line that Georgia initiated a conflict."  We'll see.

Amb. Khalilzad [says] don't believe the hype

  Meanwhile, responding to an earlier Inner City Press report, from Yerevan comes a quote by Georgian Ambassador to Armenia Revaz countering that the airplanes that bombed Georgian airports flew off from the Russian military base in Armenia: "No Georgian official structures said this. As representative of official authorities of Georgia, I don't say it either. We don't doubt that Armenia will remain neutral in this case and no airplanes will bomb the territory of Georgia from Armenia. I have no doubt."  But the allegation was made by a Georgian official. Armenian Colonel Seyran Shahsuvaryan was also quoted that "there are no bomber aircrafts at the Russian military base in Armenia," only light interceptors. Again, we'll see.

Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), and this --


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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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