THREE HUNDRED CHECHEN REBELS LINKED TO AL QAEDA ARRIVED IN IRAQ, WESTERN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES WARNED

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ROME, June 20 - RIA Novosti's Sergei Startsev. Three hundred Chechen rebels possibly linked to Al Qaeda crossed the Iraqi border on Thursday night to prepare an assault against the coalition forces, Italian news agency ANSA's correspondents based in An-Nasiriya, Iraq reported on Sunday, citing sources in Western intelligence services.

The news agency said that the information had been forwarded to the Italian intelligence by their British counterparts.

Then Italians had this information confirmed by their sources in Iraq to warn the leadership of the Italian military force in the country, deployed near An-Nasiriya.

The Special Operations teams of the contingent have been put on high alert because the Italian premises are considered to be at the highest risk of assault.

According to ANSA, before leaving for Iraq the Chechen insurgents had been trained in Afghanistan.

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