WASHINGTON (AFP) — US military trainers based in Georgia are not involved in the hostilities between Russian and Georgian forces in breakaway South Ossetia, US military officials said Friday.
"They are not involved in any way in this conflict between the Russian military and the Georgian military," said Lieutenant Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US European Command.
"We have upwards of 100 military trainers who are in Georgia now. We've been able to account for all of them," he told AFP.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said there were no plans to redeploy the estimated 130 US troops and civilian contractors, who he said were stationed in the area around Tblisi.
The US Defense Department has been in contact with Georgian officials over the situation, but the Georgians have made no requests for assistance, Whitman said.
"We have forces in Georgia, so obviously the secretary is interested in the situation there," he said, referring to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Georgia is the third largest troop contributor to the US-led coalition in Iraq and the US military has a longstanding program to train their forces.
He said the US European Command's plans and operations center has been monitoring the situation in South Ossetia, the flashpoint for the conflict between Russian and Georgian militaries.
"What they do in a situation like this is contact the embassy, contact our troops there, assess the situation, and begin to receive any information or request for support from the embassy, or any reports about US citizens being in danger."
"At this point we are early in the hostilities. The situation is sort of dynamic at this point," he said.
The outbreak of fighting also was being closely watched at the Pentagon, said a US military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We're obviously very concerned. We are watching it closely," said the official. "We are looking at the situation, and how it develops. It's still early."
The United States, European Union and NATO have led international calls for an immediate end to violence in South Ossetia amid fears of all-out war between Russia and Georgia.
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