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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reports: Army Lifts Argun Blockade

The army lifted its blockade of Argun on Thursday following a roundup of suspected Chechen rebels that prompted clashes and protests by residents of abuses by servicemen, news reports said.

Only a few women and children had been allowed in or out of Argun, Chechnya's third-largest city, since Sunday as soldiers swept the town for militants believed to have taken refuge there. Officials said Wednesday the operation had been completed, but the cordon was lifted only Thursday, Itar-Tass reported. Pro-Moscow Chechen officials and other residents who had been barred from entering were allowed back.

The chief of the General Staff, General Anatoly Kvashnin, insisted Thursday that federal forces would continue to root out rebels in similar sweep operations.

Kvashnin, in remarks reported by news agencies and television, also said Russia had completed a planned withdrawal of "excessive" forces from Chechnya, without giving figures.