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    South Ossetians must decide their fate themselves - OSCE

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    The political fate of Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia must be decided by South Ossetians themselves, Europe's main security and human rights watchdog said on Sunday.

    VLADIKAVKAZ, August 17 (RIA Novosti) - The political fate of Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia must be decided by South Ossetians themselves, Europe's main security and human rights watchdog said on Sunday.

    Georgia launched a major ground and air offensive to seize control of South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send in tanks and thousands of troops. Russia says at least 1,600 civilians were killed in the Georgian onslaught and 34,000 Ossetians were forced to cross the Russian border.

    "The fate of South Ossetia must be decided by the people of South Ossetia. They live in very difficult conditions and the context of what has happened is quite complex," Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE), said at a news conference in the capital of North Ossetia.

    Brichambaut added that history and realities needed to be taken into account when making a decision on the status of South Ossetia.

    The OSCE chief said that the international community will provide all necessary aid to refugees from war-torn South Ossetia.

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