Russian forces seize anti-aircraft missile system after battle with Chechen fighters

Russian special forces seized an anti-aircraft missile system from Chechen fighters following a battle that left at least two insurgents dead, a federal military spokesman said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Ilya Shabalkin said in a statement that the Russian forces battled at least four fighters in the eastern Nozhai-Yurt district of the war-torn Russian region on Sunday. One of the two fighters who escaped overnight appeared to be of Arabic descent, Shabalkin said.

A large amount of ammunition and weaponry as well as a Strela missile system was found at the site of the battle, said Shabalkin, the chief federal spokesman for Russian forces fighting Chechnya.

Russian forces along with helicopters were tracking several other fighters in the mountains near the border with Dagestan. The ITAR-Tass news agency said a third fighter was killed Monday by a helicopter.

Chechen rebels have used portable shoulder-fired missiles to shoot down helicopters over Chechnya during two wars against Russian forces in the past decade, including an overcrowded Russian military helicopter whose fiery 2002 crash killed at least 127 people.

Associated Press

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