DZHAVA, Georgia - Russia dispatched an armored column into the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia on Friday after Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally, launched a surprise offensive to crush separatists. Witnesses said hundreds of civilians were killed. Fighting reportedly raged well into the night with Georgia's interior ministry saying early Saturday that warplanes attacked three Georgian military bases and key facilities for shipping oil to the West.
The fighting, which devastated the capital of Tskhinvali, threatened to ignite a wider war between Georgia and Russia, and escalate tensions between Moscow and Washington. Georgia said it was forced to launch the assault because of rebel attacks; the separatists alleged Georgia violated a cease-fire.
"I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings, in cars," said Lyudmila Ostayeva, 50, who had fled with her family to Dzhava, a
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