Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 134

Tajikistan’s first deputy defense minister and armed forces chief of staff, Maj. General Nikolai Shcherbatov told a Dushanbe briefing yesterday that some 2,000 government soldiers continue battling an estimated 700 opposition fighters in central Tajikistan’s Tavildara district, most of which was recaptured by Dushanbe’s troops last week. Shcherbatov and other officials said that their forces used artillery and armor to inflict "serious losses" on the opposition. The officials ruled out a ceasefire as long as the opposition continues to control portions of the Dushanbe-Badakhshan highway, the sole link between Tajikistan’s western heartland and the opposition-dominated east. Western pro-government warlord Colonel Mahmud Hudoberdiev, who temporarily rebelled against Dushanbe last year, now commands elite Presidential Guard troops fighting for control over that strategic highway in central Tajikistan. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, July 7 and 8)

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