Russian armored vehicles.
Darko Bandic  /  AP
Russian armored vehicles move in Orjosani, between the capital Tbilisi and strategic town of Gori, Georgia, on Saturday.
updated 8/17/2008 3:46:22 AM ET 2008-08-17T07:46:22

Two state-controlled Russian news agencies sent conflicting reports about whether Russian troops were withdrawing from the separatist-held South Ossetia on Sunday.

The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted an unidentified Russian Defense Ministry official as saying non-essential Russian military units were departing.

Later, the Interfax agency cited an unnamed Defense Ministry official as saying no withdrawal had begun.

Neither account could immediately be independently confirmed Sunday.

Irina Gagloyeva, a spokesman for the South Ossetian defense ministry said South Ossetian police are replacing Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali, the territory's capital.

Hundreds of Russian tanks and thousands of soldiers poured into South Ossetia from Russia last week to repel a Georgian offensive, leading to full-scale combat.

Russia's state-controlled ITAR-Tass news agency said that some Russian troops were withdrawing from the separatist-held Georgian region of South Ossetia.

ITAR-Tass quoted an unidentified Russian Defense Ministry official as saying non-essential Russian military units were departing.

It was not clear how many troops that includes.

Irina Gagloyeva, a spokesman for the South Ossetian defense ministry, said she cannot confirm the report. But she said South Ossetian police were replacing Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali, the breakaway territory's capital.

Hundreds of Russian tanks and thousands of soldiers poured into South Ossetia from Russia last week to repel a Georgian offensive, leading to full-scale combat.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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