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    Russia says 1,500 killed in S.Ossetia

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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that 1,500 people have been killed in South Ossetia since the start of Georgia's attack on the breakaway republic.

    MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that 1,500 people have been killed in South Ossetia since the start of Georgia's attack on the breakaway republic.

    Georgia launched a large-scale offensive to seize control over the province early on Friday using tanks, combat aircraft, heavy artillery and infantry. South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, has been devastated in the onslaught, and Russia earlier said at least 15 of its peacekeepers had lost their lives

    Lavrov said in a conference call for journalists that the death toll in the separatist province was continuing to rise, and warned that Georgia should not feel safe from Russian retaliation.

    More than 30,000 residents of South Ossetia have fled to neighboring Russia since the Georgian attack, the Russian government said earlier.

    "Over the past one and a half days, more than 30,000 people have crossed the border," Chief of Government Staff Sergei Sobyanin told President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting to discuss humanitarian aid to the province.

    Most residents of the breakaway province have Russian citizenship.

    Medvedev said earlier in the day that the country's troops have begun a military operation in South Ossetia to force Georgian troops to cease violence.

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