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Russia: General -- Chechen Conflict May Last Into 2000

Moscow, 5 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - A senior commander in Russia said today that the military campaign in the breakaway republic of Chechnya could extend into next year. And the UN refugee agency says some of the 200,000 people who have fled the republic because of fighting will likely spend the winter in tents in the neighboring Russian republic of Ingushetia. Russia began its offensive in Chechnya two months ago, and the attacks continued today. Some Russian generals originally said the military campaign would be over this month. During a media briefing today, the first deputy chief of Russia's General Staff said the main part of the operation will be over by year's end. But Valerii Manilov said it could last longer if Russia fails to interrupt the flow of money, arms and soldiers to Chechen rebels.

Meanwhile, Ingush Interior Minister Khamzat Gutsiriyev says the line of Chechens seeking refuge from the fighting remains kilometers long, even though 6,000 entered Ingushetia yesterday and the border reopened this morning.

UN spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva that the UN refugee agency is sending more convoys to the region with tents and hopes other agencies will step up aid.