Moscow, 9 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russia has acknowledged military setbacks in ongoing battles with separatist rebels in Chechnya. Army spokesman Gennady Alyokhin said federal forces had suffered losses in the latest fighting in the foothills of Chechnya's southern mountains. But Alyokhin said Chechen losses had been far greater. No independent confirmation was available.
The army spokesman also said federal forces have been ordered to eliminate all rebels remaining in the mountains before the appearance of the spring foliage, which could give the rebels camouflage, later this month.
The heaviest fighting was reported yesterday in Komsomolskoye, a village in Russian-controlled territory which the rebels entered early this week. Russian military officials said federal troops had stormed the village and that the rebel resistance there had largely been broken.