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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Military Says Death Toll Tops 1,000




Senior military officials said Tuesday that 1,173 Russian servicemen have been killed in nearly six months of fighting in the North Caucasus, a much higher figure than previously reported.


The Defense Ministry reported losing 820 people and the Interior Ministry 353 in Dagestan and Chechnya, Interfax reported. The number of wounded totaled 3,487, and 53 men were still missing.


Interfax quoted Colonel General Valery Manilov as saying the army's dead included 134 officers. "This means that officers are marching shoulder to shoulder with their men into battle," he said. The Interior Ministry has lost 46 officers.


The death count has come under close scrutiny in recent weeks as the fighting for Grozny has intensified. The latest figures seemed to confirm media reports that the real death toll was much higher than the daily official figures - in the single digits - implied.


In Grozny, both Russian and Chechen commanders reported intensified fighting around Minutka Square, where the Russian advance on the city center has been stalled for days. The square is near a Russian-held bridge across the Sunzha River that bisects Grozny.


Russian officials conceded that the federal forces were having trouble overcoming the agile rebels, who are moving about the city in bands of no more than 15 fighters, Interfax said.


Aslanbek Ismailov, a rebel commander, said his fighters had switched from trying to hold on to fixed positions to hit-and-run attacks, striking Russian troops from the rear.


An Mi-8 helicopter carrying Russian officers crashed in the southern Vedeno district Tuesday, but none of the officers were injured beyond bruises, Interfax said. The military said that a technical malfunction had caused the crash.


Russian aircraft continued to concentrate their fire on the rebel-held Argun and Vedeno gorges.


The European Union repeated its condemnation Monday of Russia's indiscriminate use of force in Chechnya, but softened the impact by praising Moscow's recent elections and the smooth transition of the presidency.


EU foreign ministers decided against any sort of trade sanctions but will suspend $90 million of the $130 million in EU aid to Russia.