In South Ossetia, Human Rights Watch researchers traveling on the evening of August 12 on the road from the town of Java to Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, witnessed terrifying scenes of destruction in four villages that used to be populated exclusively by ethnic Georgians. According to the few remaining local residents, South Ossetian militias that were moving along the road looted the Georgian villages and set them on fire.
On August, 13, Russian military had blocked the road from Java to Tskhinvali, allowing only military vehicles and a few civilian cars to pass, in an effort to prevent further arson attacks and looting. On August 13, several houses were still burning. By August 14, Human Rights Watch researchers saw no more fires in this area. However, looting and buring of Georgian villages, presumably by Ossetian volunteer militias, has continued in ethnic Georgian villages in Georgia´s Gori district.
Human Rights Watch remains concerned about the fate of those remaining in the villages, including many elderly, and calls on all parties to immediately allow for safe and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief operations.