Russia moves to cut losses
The Russians said they had lost a total of 40 men. The deputy interior minister, Igor Zubov, put guerrilla dead at 400-500. "Today we can say our strategic goals have been reached," he told a news conference after returning from the battle zone between Dagestan and the neighbouring rebel republic of Chechnya.
But he acknowledged that operations to force the rebels out of inaccessible mountain villages were producing mixed results. "The use of artillery and air strikes and other weapons in situ is not effective enough," he said. He claimed rebels had fortified positions on the hills around the villages, which nestled in long, narrow valleys.
"They could be taken by a direct assault but it would bring big losses," he said. "We have decided to make sure our losses come to a minimum."
On Wednesday Russian troops aborted an attack on the village of Tando, which the Defence Ministry said had claimed four of its soldiers. Mr Zubov said troops were regrouping after the failed assaults and would concentrate on destroying rebel communications and supply routes. Volunteer Dagestanis fought on the Russian side and Mr Zubov said about 2,000 of these had been armed with hunting rifles by the federal forces.
The rebels continued to dispute the Russian claims, saying that they still controlled several strategic heights and that Moscow's statements about the battlefield successes were "100 per cent lies".
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...
£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...
£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...