Conflicting reports about Russian troops leaving South Ossetia

Two state-controlled Russian news agencies filed conflicting reports Saturday about whether Russian troops were withdrawing from the separatist-held South Ossetia. The Itar-Tass quoted an unidentified Russian Defense Ministry official as saying nonessential Russian military units were departing, without saying how many troops or vehicles. But the Interfax agency later quoted an unidentified official from the same Russian ministry as saying no withdrawal had begun. Irina Gagloyeva, a spokesman for the South Ossetian defense ministry, also could not confirm the Itar-Tass report of a partial withdrawal. But she said South Ossetian police were replacing Russian peacekeepers in the Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. 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.