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Clashes continue in Abkhazia amid fears the peace drive could be derailed

 Clashes continue in Abkhazia amid fears the peace drive could be derailed
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Separatist fighters in the breakaway region of Abkhazia say they have pushed Georgian troops out of their enclave in the upper Kodori gorge.

The Abkhaz soldiers celebrated by tearing down Georgian flags and erecting their own instead.

Abkhazia declared de facto independence from Tblisi in the 1990s, and experts say continued dispute over issues like the Russian-backed province’s sovereignty could threaten to derail the peace drive mounted by the EU.

Like South Ossetia, Abkhazia wants full independence from Georgia. But Tbilisi says both must remain within its territory.

Russia has some peacekeepers in Abkhazia under an international mandate and the terms of the peace deal stipulate that they can stay in position.

But all other troops must return to where they were before the conflict broke out on August 6.

All military action and force must stop and there must be unhindered access to humanitarian aid for the victims of the fighting. In the long term, Russia and Georgia must also commit themselves to international talks on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.