LONDON -- Germany's offensive on the 90-mile Orel-Kursk stretch of the eastern front subsided Tuesday and the enemy lost 96 tanks in vain thrusts in the Belgorod area 80 miles to the south, a Russian communique said today.
It was not yet clear whether the Germans had abandoned their offensive on the Orel-Kursk line after nine days of some of the costliest fighting of the war or whether they were regrouping for a new start, as minor attacks continued.
But the offensive at the northern end of the line had stalled and Moscow dispatches reported that the Russians had recovered much of the ground they lost in the Belgorod sector in the early days of the German offensive.
"During July 13 our troops continued to fight enemy tanks and infantry in the Belgorod direction." the Russian communique said as recorded here. "In the Orel-Kursk directions the enemy during the day did not launch a large offensive."
The Russian communique, reporting that the Germans lost 96 tanks and 13 planes Tuesday, said that revised figures brought German plane losses Monday to 79 planes instead of 18. This made the total tank losses of the enemy in nine days 2,718 and the toll of planes 1,200.
The communique, recorded from the Moscow radio, emphasized that all German attacks on the Orel-Kursk line had failed and said that at the Belgorod end the Red Army by counter-attacks threw back in some sectors the Germans who had wedged into their lines.
Artillery and trench mortar duels, with occasional combat by patrols, featured Tuesday's fighting all the way from Orel to Kursk.
In only one sector did the Germans essay a real attack and it was repulsed. The Germans lost some tanks and 400 men killed in this fight.
The Germans continued fighting nerceiy in the Belgorod area, the communique said. But it reported that the ferocious enemy attacks, de signed at all costs to achieve success, met with the fiercest resistance.
Again and again Red army shock troops hit the enemy line, regaining ground that the Germans had won in the first dangerous days of their offensive. The Germans lost heavily in men and equipment the communique said.
In addition to 96 tanks destroyed or disabled, the Russian communique said, more were damaged in the Bel gorod area. Twenty giant Tigers were among the tanks knocked out. The Russian guns destroyed 250 trucks and killed many troops, it was asserted.