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CNN Today

Chechen Rebels Reportedly Receiving Help From Afghan Troops in Holding Off Russians

Aired January 31, 2000 - 1:35 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Russian military is still trying to seize full control of the Chechen capital and still having an extremely difficult time. Chechen rebels, who are fighting to the death for every building and street corner, reportedly are getting help from, among others, Taleban troops from Afghanistan.

Here's the latest from CNN's Steve Harrigan. He's in Grozny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Official optimism about the war is doled out by Russian generals in standard phrases, but inside the tents, the soldiers are singing a very different tune.

"Why do we bury here," he sings, "our souls, our friends, our honor. Tell us commander. You yourself don't know the answer."

No answer, either, about when the Russians will be able to take control of the Chechen capital.

(on camera): The Russian advance has been steady but slow, and the Russians talk about their opponents with a respect that sometimes borders on awe.

(voice-over): The Chechens, many say, are better armed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They have night-vision scopes for their weapons, and their communications are much more modern. They can listen in on whatever we say.

HARRIGAN: The Chechens, many say, are not fighting alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's not just Chechens, it's Arabs, blacks, Ukrainians, small groups of mercenaries who are highly mobile. They hit us in one place, then disappear.

HARRIGAN: Complaints that Russian soldiers have made before in an earlier war in Afghanistan.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Grozny, Chechnya.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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