A new look at the Russian-Georgian conflict

President Saakashvili has denied that Georgia's armed forces committed war crimes during their attack on South Ossetia in August. Evidence obtained by the BBC suggests Georgia used indiscriminate force and may have targeted civilians.

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Coverage of the conflict between Russia and Georgia has for the most part, placed Russia as the aggressor and Georgia as the victim. But as "The World's" Matthew Bell reports, recent accounts from the region may reveal a different story.

Some of the accounts come from eyewitnesses interviewed by BBC Television during a rare independent visit to South Ossetia -- that's where the fighting started between the Georgian military and separatist rebels backed by Russia. An Ossetian villager told the BBC that houses in her area were deliberately targeted by Georgian tanks.

Researchers with Human Rights Watch have collected evidence from the South Ossetia capital. Moscow director Allison Gill says the group is concerned about the use of indiscriminate force by the Georgian military: "We saw and then have witness testimony that corroborates tank attacks on apartment buildings, including tank attacks that shot at the basement level of apartments, and basements are typically areas where civilians will hide for their own protection."

Gill says the Georgian military appears to be guilty of committing war crimes: "Indiscriminate force -- disproportionate force -- are violations of the Geneva Conventions which regulate war, and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes."

Georgian President Saakashvili denies that his side committed atrocities and says he welcomes a full investigation. A U.S. State Department Official has said that Georgia's actions have raised some real questions, but he adds that raising the issue of war crimes is not useful at this point.

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

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