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S.Ossetia peacekeepers to be beefed up with armor, tanks

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The peacekeeping force in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia will be reinforced with armored vehicles, including tanks, a spokesman for Russia's Defense Ministry said Friday.
MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) - The peacekeeping force in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia will be reinforced with armored vehicles, including tanks, a spokesman for Russia's Defense Ministry said Friday.

Before Georgia's August 8 attack on Tskhinvali, 1,500 peacekeepers were deployed in South Ossetia, 500 apiece from Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia. The peacekeepers were only armed with light weapons.

"The numerical strength of peacekeepers to be deployed there on a permanent basis will be increased. Peacekeepers will be armed not only with small arms and light weapons, but with heavy weaponry, and will also have armored vehicles and tanks attached to them," Lt.-Gen. Nikolai Uvarov said.

He recalled that the French-brokered peace agreement, which was agreed by Russia and Georgia on Tuesday, provides for security measures.

"Deployment of an [additional] formation or grouping of forces is specifically covered by this provision," the official said.

He said, however, Georgian peacekeepers would not return to South Ossetia.

"We will not allow traitors who have fired on their own back into the region," Uvarov said.

Russia has accused Georgian peacekeepers of attacking their Russian colleagues when the fighting started, while South Ossetia has said it will no longer allow Georgian peacekeepers onto its territory.

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