The Tajik government claimed over the weekend that its troops have recaptured from the opposition the strategic town of Tavildara, which has exchanged hand several times in recent months. But the government acknowledged that the opposition retains the strategic heights there and is closing in on another crucial East-West passage near Childar. The Russian defense ministry has expressed concern that the opposition might cut the country in two, establish full control over its eastern part, and possibly proclaim its own government there.
The command of Russian border troops in Tajikistan reported that Afghan government troops in at least one district on the Afghan-Tajik border have attacked Tajik opposition detachments to prevent them from crossing into Tajikistan. The Russian command also claimed to have signed an agreement on border crossing with Kabul’s military command in Shugnan district opposite Badahshan’s capital Horog.
These reports follows a flurry of meetings last week by Russian civilian and military officials with Kabul representatives in Moscow and Tajikistan. The Russian representatives urged that Afghan troops push the insurgents deeper into Afghanistan, establish a security zone on the Afghan side of Afghan-Tajik border, share intelligence with Russian troops, and use force to block Tajik insurgents’ access to the border. Additional meetings were held over the weekend by the commander in chief of Russia’s border troops, General Andrey Nikolaev with Kabul’s ambassador in Moscow and by the commander of Russian border troops in Tajikistan, Lt. General Pavel Tarasenko with Afghan civilian officials and military commanders from border areas opposite Tajikistan’s Badakhshan region.
Tarasenko, accompanied by Russia’s ambassador to Tajikistan Mechislav Senkievich, also warned that his forces will continue blocking Red Cross relief, food deliveries by Aga Khan’s Ismailite organization, and trade in the border area until Afghan troops in cooperation with Russian troops force the Tajik opposition away from the border. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, August 23 through 25)
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