19:16 | 29/ 12/ 2008
MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia is moving tanks and armored vehicles closer to the border with South Ossetia, the Georgian breakaway republic said Monday.
"According to intelligence reports, Georgia has moved 28 tanks to Gori, where a tank battalion is stationed. In addition, Cobra armored vehicles have been spotted in the village of Nikozi near the South Ossetian border," the state committee on information and press said in a statement.
The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) said last Friday it was concerned over the deployment by Georgia of Cobra armored vehicles in areas close to the South Ossetian and Abkhazian borders.
Georgia's Interior Ministry has confirmed reports of Cobra vehicles being in a number of villages and said the EU has been informed of that.
The head of the ministry's analytical department said the vehicles are employed to patrol and control the situation.
"We brought Cobra vehicles to border villages, including Nikozi, two weeks ago," Shota Utiashvili said.
Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 7-8 in an attempt to regain control over the republic, which, along with Abkhazia, split from Georgia in the early 1990s.
In response Russia launched a military operation to repel Georgia's troops from the region, which concluded on August 12, ending up deep in Georgian territory.
In accordance with a French-brokered peace deal, Russia withdrew its forces from Georgian buffer zones ahead of an October 10 deadline. The peacekeepers were replaced by a 200-strong EU monitoring mission to Georgia.
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