President Boris Yeltsin on Tuesday declared victory in the war in Chechnya and told some conscripts they could go home within days, as he made a surprise whirlwind visit to the republic, effectively leaving the leader of the Chechen rebels hostage in Moscow as security. A day after reaching a cease-fire agreement with rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev during talks in the Kremlin, Yeltsin, 65, flew first to Mozdok in the neighboring North Caucasus region of North Ossetia, before traveling by helicopter to Grozny's heavily guarded Severny airport. ""The war is over and you have won,"" Itar-Tass reported Yeltsin as saying as he addressed the troops from the 205th Rifle Brigade at Severny. He told the soldiers that the Chechens were now ""routed"" and ""destroyed."" Details of the visit remained sketchy Tuesday, but it was clear Yeltsin did not go into Grozny itself, remaining at the airport and stopping briefly in the village of Pravoberezhnoye. The entire visit lasted less than four hours.