Russia: August 22, 2002


Russian aviation and artillery continued to hit a rebel group lodged in the vicinity of Galsan-Chu (Gonsolchu), on the afternoon of 22 August. The battle started on 20 August in Chechnya's Nozhai-Yurt district, when a Federal 'special operation' moved on the village. Generally, these missions are meant to catch a few rebels off-guard and occasionally catch a minor leader.

A detachment of the rebel "Presidential Guard" camped in a temporary base near the village heard the vehicles and took up hasty defensive positions. Instead of their normal hit-and-run tactics, the rebels knew the area well enough to offer a stand-up fight. They claimed to have knocked out two APCs in their first volleys and were particularly proud of the effectiveness of their home-made mortars. By the end of the first day of fighting, the rebels claimed that the Russians had lost over 50 soldiers killed and wounded, as well as three APCs, one Ural truck and one UAZ jeep destroyed.

On the 21st, the rebels also claimed that a group under the command of 'Askhab' attacked a Russian military convoy in the same area, killing 12 and wounding nine as well as knocking out two Ural cargo trucks and a GAZ-66 vehicle after a short battle. Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) can be problematic through the Chechen's press releases, since double-counting benefits the rebels.

Since Russian troop movements by helicopter were restricted since the 19 August crash of a Mi-26 Halo, backup from the Russian base near the village of Alleroy had to come by road. However, the Russian reinforcing detachment was attacked by a group of rebels under the command of 'Ramzan' at a bend in the road. After the leading APC was blown up and the whole column subjected to grenade-launcher fire, the rebels claimed that the column turned back and returned to the base (having lost one APC and four soldiers). The Russian version was that on 19 August the second of two APCs (escorting several trucks traveling from Urus-Martan to Roshni-Chu) was hit near the village of Gekhi-Chu. They admitted to losing one serviceman killed and another five injured.

By the 21st, Federal spokesmen were claiming that 50 rebels had been killed at the village and that all that was left to do was search for their bodies and identification.
Arab 'mercenaries' were believed to be among the rebels in the village. However, on the 22nd a Federal spokesman told the press that the Federals had decided they would destroy the entire gang, then conduct a mop-up operation in the district.

This could turn out to be a significant battle for the summer of 2002, since stand-up fights by the rebels (as well as groups of more than a dozen or so) are rare these days. - Adam Geibel


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