Hundreds, possibly thousands, of volunteer fighters from Russia were mobilising to enter the war in Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia last night.
Units of armed Cossacks from across the North Caucasus region which borders Georgia were poised to join the battle for the separatists' capital, Tskhinvali.
In North Ossetia, the region of Russia which shares cultural links and a border with South Ossetia, lists of men willing to fight against Georgian forces were drawn up. Vitaly Khubayev, 35, from the capital, Vladikavkaz, told the Guardian: "There are already two busloads of fighters leaving for Tskhinvali every day. They give you a uniform on the way and you get issued with weapons once you arrive. If I didn't have three children I'd have gone."
The two Ossetias are historically inseparable and residents of the northern republic were furious yesterday at what they described as the "Georgian fascist attack" on their neighbours.
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