Fighting raged in and around the capital of Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region on Friday as Georgian troops and warplanes pounded separatist forces in a bid to regain control of the territory. The separatists have Moscow's political and financial backing. Here is a chronology of events in South Ossetia:
November 1989 - South Ossetia declares its autonomy from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, triggering three months of fighting.
December 1990 - Georgia and South Ossetia begin a new armed conflict which lasts until 1992.
June 1992 - Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian leaders meet in Sochi, sign an armistice and agree the creation of a tripartite peacekeeping force of 500 soldiers from each entity.
November 1993 - South Ossetia drafts its own constitution.
November 1996 - South Ossetia elects its first president.
December 2000 - Russia and Georgia sign an intergovernment agreement to re-establish the economy in the conflict zone.
December 2001 - South Ossetia elects Eduard Kokoity as president, in 2002 he asks Moscow to recognise the republic's independence and absorb it into Russia.
January 2005 - Russia gives guarded approval to Georgia's plan to grant broad autonomy to South Ossetia in exchange for dropping its bid for independence.
November 2006 - South Ossetia overwhelmingly endorses its split with Tbilisi in a referendum. Georgia's prime minister says this is part of a Russian campaign to stoke a war. April 2007 - Georgia's parliament approves a law to create a temporary administration in South Ossetia, raising tension with Russia.
June 2007 - South Ossetian separatists say Georgia attacked Tskhinvali with mortar and sniper fire. Tbilisi denies this.
October 2007 - Talks hosted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe between Georgia and South Ossetia break down.
March 2008 - South Ossetia asks the world to recognise its independence from Georgia, following the West's support for Kosovo's secession from Serbia.
March 2008 - Georgia's bid to join NATO, though unsuccessful, prompts Russia's parliament to urge the Kremlin to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
April 2008 - South Ossetia rejects a Georgian power-sharing deal, insists on full independence.August 2008 - Fighting breaks out between Georgian and separatist South Ossetian forces. Georgia says its forces have "freed" the greater part of the Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.