Russian troops attack South Ossetia

[video:youtube:E4AD6mOZm9I] Russian troops head in the direction of Tskhinvali, the capital of Georgia’s separatist South Ossetia region. This follows “a massive attack” by Georgian troops to regain control of breakaway region where officials said at least 15 people were killed and an unspecified number of people wounded.

A convoy of Russian tanks and troops is reportedly moving toward South Ossetia’s capital as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared that the war has started. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “War started today in South Ossetia when Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers in the disputed region.” link

The Daily Telegraph quotes Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, as saying

“ethnic cleansing” had been reported in villages in South Ossetia amid a Georgian offensive to retake the breakaway region. link

The Belfast Telegraph runs some images as does the BBC. The BBC also has background to the conlict. The Video above is from AP. Onnik Krikorian at Global Voices quotes bloggers on the ground and plans on running updates. UPDATE: updates begin here and will probably follow here.
The latest from Reuters,

Russian armoured vehicles have entered the Northern edges of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, the separatists’ press service reported on its website on Friday. “Russian armoured vehicles have entered the northern suburbs of Tskhinvali,” the website reported. “According to eyewitnesses … Georgian troops have started to retreat from the positions they occupied,” the website said. link

UPDATE: 23:18 Paris time
Can’t help but agree with this comment from Matt_Wells on the BBC Editors blog in response to Editor Kathy Searle’s remark that the South Ossetia story is “Not a natural story for the Six”,

South Ossetia “not a natural story for the Six”? Are you kidding? Hundreds of civilians killed and a superpower about to engage in war? On every other UK news outlet, from to Sky News, this is the lead story! Only the BBC, which presumably has to justify the oodles of cash it has splurged on the Olympics and the vast overstaffing in Beijing, would think that some contemporary interpretive dance deserves higher billing! link

Meanwhile, Georgia says Russia bombed its air bases,

“I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings, in cars,” said Lyudmila Ostayeva, 50, who fled with her family to Dzhava, a village near the border with Russia. “It’s impossible to count them now. There is hardly a single building left undamaged.” link