General Rashid Dostum Has About 200 US And 90 Turkish Commandos Among His Troops

Uzbek General Rashid Dostum has about 200 US and 90 Turkish commandos operating within his troops that belong to the forces of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, an informed source close to Russia's Defence Ministry told RIA Novosti. According to the source, this fact, as also massive supplies to Dostum's troops of Soviet and Russian ammunition, weapons and equipment, explain the "blitz operations" - the capture by them of Mazar-i-Sharif, a strategically important city in northern Afghanistan, and successful advances on the southern sector. The source told the agency that Russia's 201st motorised rifle division consisting of 4 regiments numbering a total of 7,500 men and deployed in Tajikistan, takes no part in a military operation against the Taliban. Seven taskforce companies allocated from its two regiments make up the second defence echelon of Russian troops on the Tajik-Afghan border. They are positioned right behind units of the Federal Border Service (FPS) of Russia in Tajikistan and will not be committed to action until border units retreat from the frontier if there is a real threat of large numbers of militants crossing into Tajikistan from Afghanistan. According to the source, the air group of the 201st division (five Su-25 assault planes) does not fly combat missions to Afghanistan, its role being restricted to accompanying troop convoys towards the Tajik-Afghan border to effect rotation. The source said that a special Russian search and rescue unit numbering around 20 men has been sent to Dushanbe to reinforce the 201st division. Its task is to carry out search and rescue operations for Russian and American pilots should their planes crash either in areas of Tajikistan bordering on Afghanistan, or in Afghanistan itself.