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Peacekeepers Claim Georgian Drone Overflight in S.Ossetia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Jul.'08 / 11:45

The Russian command of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) in the South Ossetian conflict zone has claimed that an unmanned Georgian reconnaissance drone, a Hermes 450, flew over the conflict zone late on July 24.

The JPKF said in a statement that overflights constitute a violation of an agreement reached between the sides in the frames of the Joint Control Commission in 2002 on “Unauthorized Flights over the Zone of Responsibility of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces.”

It has also said that 29 cases of “unauthorized flights” had been observed over the conflict zone between April 15 and July 25, 2008.

Shota Utiashvili, a Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman, however, told Civil.Ge on July 25 that the Georgian side had not sent any drone over breakaway South Ossetia.

The Abkhaz side has claimed that it shot down seven Georgian drones over Abkhazia between March 18 and May 12. The Georgian side has confirmed that three of its drones were shot down. Tbilisi also says that its drones were targeted by Russian military aircraft or BUK - SA-11 Gadfly air-defence system.

Georgia said in late May that it had suspended flights of unmanned reconnaissance drones over Abkhazia after UN observers said they violated the 1994 Moscow agreement on ceasefire and separation of forces. The Georgian side, however, also said that Tbilisi would resume flights if there were a threat requiring them to do so. 

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