A Russian general told a television audience Sunday that 31 Russian troops were killed in recent clashes with Chechen rebels.

Gen. Gennady Troshev said the fighting was in the Argun gorge south of Grozny. Troshev said the Russian soldiers were badly outnumbered when attacked by 1,000 Chechen fighters.

Most of the battles were fought near the villages of Ulus-Kert and Selmentausen. Troshev said the Chechens were fighting to reach the flatlands of Chechnya.

A Chechen ambush last week killed another 20 Russian soldiers.