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Russians Believed Killed in US Syria Attack

14 February, 2018, 19:27 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • US forces drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah

Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials.

The US military said last week it launched air strikes on Syrian government-backed troops after as many as 500 attackers began what appeared to be a coordinated assault on Syrian opposition forces accompanied by US advisers in the province of Deir el-Zour.

Air force Lt Gen Jeffrey Harrigan said United States advisers had been in an operating base alongside units of the mostly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the course of anti-Isis operations, when they came under tank fire.

At least two Russian fighters were killed in USA air strikes in north-eastern Syria last week, their associates have told the BBC.

The associates named the dead as Vladimir Loginov, a Cossack from Russia's western Kaliningrad region, and Kirill Ananyev, a radical nationalist from Moscow.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other US officials said they had no information on Russian casualties in the February 7 clash, and the Kremlin did not confirm any Russian deaths.

"We have details of servicemen of the Russian armed forces, who are taking part in the Russian military operation in support of the Syrian army", Dmitry Peskov said.

The US military said it destroyed the tank after it moved within firing range of the US-backed forces while being supported by artillery fire.

The officials also said it wasn't clear whose fighters made up the attacking force.

Lavrov also reiterated that Russian Federation remains in favor of Kurdish participation in the Syrian peace process. The raises the stakes about USA attacks in Syria fueling a direct conflict with Russian Federation.

Screenshot of Russian soldiers in the Syrian desert.

When pressed on why the USA considered the communication a success when it did not prevent the pro-government force attack, Mattis told reporters on Thursday, "You can't ask Russian Federation to deconflict something they don't control".

The strike was the second by the US against pro-Syrian regime forces last week, according to the USA military's Central Command. Vladimir Frolov, an independent Moscow foreign policy analyst, said Putin was looking for calm ahead of the presidential election next month, in which he is expected to win a fourth term.

The officials said the USA was puzzled because proper procedures had been followed - American forces used the deconfliction line to get Russia's go-ahead to defend coalition forces against the attackers.

The investigative team said the total number of Russian victims of the airstrike is unlikely to be established, but said 'it is beyond doubt that this incident indeed took place'. Some Russian lawmakers have called for legislation that would set rules fro private military contractors.

This incident is not the first time Russian mercenaries have been reported to be operating in Syria. Prigozhin's assets include Evro Polis, an oil trading firm that reportedly has served as a front for Wagner's operations in Syria. "I advise you to contact the defence ministry".

Several Russians who had been hired as paramilitary contractors were among more than 100 men killed in USA airstrikes in northern Syria last week, according to their friends and families.

Private contractors - why are they in Syria?

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