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DATE=11/28/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA - CHECHNYA UPDATE - L NUMBER=2-256593 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russian forces are intensifying attacks on the Chechen capital, Grozny, as they try to isolate the city and cut off the main supply routes. V-O-A's Peter Heinlein in Moscow reports leaflets air-dropped on the besieged city are warning civilians to get out. TEXT: Refugees pouring out of Chechnya Sunday said Russian airplanes dropped leaflets advising them of safe routes out of the city. Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Koshman told the N-T-V television channel a corridor has been left open, but said he believes most civilians have already left. Grozny's Mayor Lecha Dudayev said at least 260, maybe as many as 500 civilians have been killed since Thursday, when federal forces began nearly round the clock bombing of the city. A line of cars filled with people trying to escape the bombardment was backed up nine kilometers from the border with neighboring Ingushetia, where more than 200-thousand refugees are already sheltering, many in squalid conditions. Russian commanders have said they have no plan to invade Grozny. They say they have learned their lessons from the last war, when thousands of federal troops were wiped out as they rolled in to the capital. Instead, the plan appears to be to demolish Grozny, then proclaim Chechnya's second city Gudermes, the capital. Gudermes, 35 kilometers to the east, was captured without much resistance earlier this month. N-T-V television reported Sunday that Russian warplanes are also battering the strategic town of Urus-Martan, 20 kilometers south of Grozny. The report said a large part of the center of the city was destroyed. Urus-Martan lies along a strategic route linking Grozny with the rebel-held south of the republic. /// OPT /// The Interfax news agency says warplanes also struck the Argun gorge, another key supply route south. /// END OPT /// In another development Sunday, Iran asked Russia for permission to lead an Islamic delegation to Moscow to discuss a political settlement of the war. At a joint news conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Iranian Minister Kamal Kharazzi said he had suggested that Iran head the delegation in its role as chairman of the Organization of Islamic Conference. The Russian minister reacted coolly to the proposal, saying the international community agrees the military offensive in Chechnya is an internal Russian affair. But Mr. Ivanov was reported to have said he would bring up the idea at Monday's Russian cabinet meeting. Iran has echoed western concerns about the use of excessive force against civilians in Chechnya, but has avoided direct criticism of the Russian government. (Signed) NEB/PFH/JO 28-Nov-1999 17:06 PM EDT (28-Nov-1999 2206 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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