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Russian intelligence disputes U.S. casualties claim

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, April 9, 2003

MOSCOW Russia has determined that the number of coalition casualties is several times higher than that reported by Britain and the United States, a former deputy defense minister said here.

On Tuesday, the Defense Department reported 96 U.S. casualties in the nearly three-week-old war against Iraq. Nearly half of the casualties were said to have been the result of friendly fire.

But Russian military intelligence is said to have placed the number of soldiers killed and wounded at more than 800. Russia has a large intelligence presence in Baghdad and in the oil regions, Middle East Newsline reported.

Gen. Vladislav Achalov, a former Soviet deputy defense minister, quoted sources in Russian military intelligence as saying that as of Monday 340 British and U.S. soldiers were killed in the war in Iraq. Achalov said another 500 coalition troops were wounded.

The figures cited by the Russian general were three times the number of casualties reported by the Pentagon. Achalov said the United States sustained additional losses on Monday when four armored personnel carriers were destroyed in the battle for Baghdad and their crews killed.

Western intelligence sources said Achalov and another ex-Soviet general, Igor Maltsev, served as key advisers in the upgrading of Iraq's air defense command. On the eve of the war, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein honored both generals.

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