Russian Army and Chechen Rebels Engaged in Street-to-Street Combat in GroznyAired January 21, 2000 - 2:37 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: All right. We're going to now check on the war in Chechnya, where the agonizing fight for the capital has become street-to-street fighting. For weeks now, Russia has been struggling to take control of Grozny, once a city of almost half a million, now largely reduced to a wasteland.
CNN's Steve Harrigan has more on this prolonged battle.
STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The buildings that still stand in the Chechen capital are slowly being pulverized. Russian tanks now fire directly into downtown Grozny. But day five of a massive ground assault finds rebel fighters in control of the city center.
The Chechen resistance has earned the respect, even the admiration, of some Russian officers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Their preparation is capital. It's the only way to say it. The closer you move to the center, the stronger the resistance gets. They are fanatics. But little by little, we are moving forward.
HARRIGAN: That progress comes at a cost. In a battlefield where few trees have been left standing, where every branch bears a bullet mark, low casualty reports from Russian officials are contradicted by soldiers in the field.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We've had a ton of wounded in the past two days, wounded and killed all over the place.
HARRIGAN: The soldiers' faces look tired. Despite around-the- clock artillery fire, the advance is far from steady. This soldier tells his commander they are not able to move forward. Others from the unit agree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's too hot to go in there now.
HARRIGAN: Heavy mortar fire is called in to cover the Russian infantry. With the pull of a rope, the city of Grozny gets even hotter. Steve Harrigan, CNN, Mozdok, Russia.
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