Stung by the loss of the town of Tavildara and much of the Tavildara district to the Tajik opposition, the Russian Defense Ministry today sent a group of senior officers on an "emergency mission" to Tajikistan. The Tajik government is rushing Defense, Internal Affairs, and Security Ministry units to contain the opposition’s advance on a new line west of the district center. Russia’s 201st Motorized Division, the mainstay of the officially neutral "peacekeeping" forces in Tajikistan, has been placed on high alert. Russian forces are likely to increase the provision of unofficial air and artillery support to the government counteroffensive. The commander of Russia’s border troops in Tajikistan, Lt. General Pavel Tarasenko, said yesterday that up to 3,000 Tajik fighters have concentrated on the Afghan side of the border, possibly in preparation for an attack on Horog, the administrative center of Badahshan province. Tarasenko, however, has often cried wolf during his tenure in Tajikistan.
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