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    Breakaway S.Ossetia asks Russia for air defenses in conflict zone-1

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    South Ossetia will formally request that Russia deploy air defense systems in the zone of conflict with Georgia in the wake of an airspace violation dispute this week, the breakaway region's leader said Thursday.

    (Clarifies quote in para 2, recasts, adds quote in para 5, background in paras 6-10)

    MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) - South Ossetia will formally request that Russia deploy air defense systems in the zone of conflict with Georgia in the wake of an airspace violation dispute this week, the breakaway region's leader said Thursday.

    "South Ossetia will approach Russia with a request to equip [Russian] peacekeepers in the conflict zone with modern air defense systems to target airspace violators," Eduard Kokoity told RIA Novosti by telephone.

    On Tuesday, Georgia accused Russia of firing a missile on a village 65 kilometers (about 40 miles) northwest of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and near the border with its breakaway region Monday. The 640-kilogram (1,400-pound) missile did not explode, but has fueled tensions between the former Soviet allies.

    Russia, which Tbilisi has accused of backing separatists, has denied involvement in the incident, demanding a thorough probe and saying it was "a new provocation" staged by Tbilisi to destabilize the region. South Ossetia echoed the accusations, saying the aircraft came from Georgia's side.

    "To deter more provocations from Georgia, we will ask the Russian leadership to reinforce the peacekeeping units in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict zone ... so they can bring down violators. It will then be clear whose aircraft entered the conflict zone," Kokoity said.

    The commander of joint peacekeeping forces said Thursday Tbilisi had denied information of an intruding aircraft the day before accusing Russia of doing so.

    "On August 6, when the incident occurred, I contacted the command of the Georgian part of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces and informed them of the intrusion and the launch [of a missile]. A report followed one hour later that the [Georgian] Armed Forces denied any intrusion whatsoever," Kulakhmetov said.

    He also said peacekeepers could not identify the unexploded missile, as Georgia had rushed to destroy it.

    Dismissing Russian and South Ossetian charges Wednesday, Georgia said, citing experts, that it was a Russian-designed anti-radar guided missile not in use in Georgia's Armed Forces. Tbilisi has demanded that the European Union step in and that the UN Security Council hold an emergency session on the matter.

    The United States condemned what it called a rocket attack on Georgia and urged Moscow and Tbilisi to ensure a peaceful resolution in the breakaway region in a State Department statement late Wednesday. Europe also called on restraint from the parties involved.

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