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CNN Today

No End in Sight For Russian-Chechen War

Aired January 17, 2000 - 2:40 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Russian military campaign in Chechnya now is in its fourth month. Despite the Russians' superior armor and firepower, the Chechen rebels have proven to be difficult and tenacious adversaries.

We get the latest from Julian Manyon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIAN MANYON, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are tense moments in Chechnya as the Russian army does its best to prevent journalists from reporting the war. In two days we were repeatedly stopped and prevented from filming. Much of this story only got out because we walked around a Russian checkpoint in the dark.

As the siege of Grozny goes on, the Russians are being accused of trying to conceal the scale of their losses. Clashes are taking place daily around the city and the Russians continue to insist that their casualties are light.

But as we entered Chechnya with armed guards in our car, an organization representing the soldiers' mothers said the army is lying. It says that about 3,000 soldiers have died so far, six times the official figure. The soldiers are often painfully young, and at the checkpoint on the outskirts of Grozny, they were jumpy, but their orders are to continue the assault.

(on camera): The Russians are still pouring men and equipment into the siege of Grozny just a couple of miles over there. But for all their firepower, they have not been able to completely cut off the city. The Chechen rebels are still able to slip through the Russian lines and carry out guerrilla attacks.

(voice-over): This village was the scene of one Chechen counterattack in which a number of Russian soldiers died. The Russian response was a torrent of bombs and shells. In one of the few houses that remains undamaged, Soseca (ph) and her family are struggling to survive, as the fighting continues nearby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There is no food left. The Russians stole everything. We don't know where to go or what to do. We are very afraid, but what can we do about it?

MANYON: Further south, fighting is going on near the town of Shali (ph). Helicopter gunships are blasting rebel positions in the mountains. Shali itself is a ghost town, with Russian armor moving by day and the rebels coming in at night. The Russian army has occupied much of Chechnya, but does not have real control. The fighting and the suffering will go on.

Julian Manyon, ITN, Chechnya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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