'Dozens' Of Russian Mercenaries Reportedly Killed In US Airstrikes In Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Italian counterpart in Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Italian counterpart in Moscow

The US military said it destroyed the tank after it moved within firing range of US-backed forces.

Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and lawmaker, warned the reported presence of Russian fighters "is a big scandal and a reason for an acute worldwide crisis".

Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a fellow at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies wrote in an email on Tuesday that a clash could happen, but wasn't inevitable. We can only operate data on the servicemen of Russian Armed Forces, who take part in the operation of the Russian Airspace forces supporting the Syrian Army.

The reports attribute the alleged casualties to a recent United States airstrike and put the figures between 100 and over 600. The attack last week, and the incursion on Saturday were said to be in violation of a de-confliction area around the Euphrates, with the coalition saying it had "been observing a slow build-up of personnel and equipment" over "a week".

Wagner, which is under United States sanctions for supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, has several hundred contractors in Syria, according to analysts.

Washington is leaving pockets of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria intact to justify continued cooperation with Kurdish forces in the country, Turkey's foreign minister said Monday. Strelkov wrote on his Vkontakte page on February 10 about "several hundred" killed and injured Russian mercenaries. More than 100 fighters said to have been killed out of an attacking force of around 500 during the clashes on 7/8 February.

More details about those killed in the strikes began to emerge in the following days. He also wouldn't even confirm whether Russian nationals were among the dead in the attack.

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Leader of the Cossack forces in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave Maksim Buga put the number of people killed at "dozens", while speaking to Reuters.

"I don't have any reporting - that some Russians - non-Russian federation soldiers, but Russian contractors were among the casualties". Some Russian lawmakers have called for legislation that would set rules for private military contractors.

The Kremlin and the Russian Defense Ministry refused to comment on media reports on Russian private contractors in Syria. Even though the Kremlin enacted a law during the Ukraine conflict in 2015 to make battlefield casualties a secret, the funerals for regular soldiers killed in combat need to be more official than those for mercenaries and are thus hard to hide.

But the Kremlin along with Russian President Vladimir Putin refuse to admit anything about the deaths. In December a year ago, President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial retreat of Russian troops from Syria. "I advise you to contact the defence ministry". The official, however, could not say how many of those who died were Russians.

"We recommend not treating media reports as primary sources", he added.

Vladimir Frolov, a security expert and former Kremlin adviser, told The Independent Russia nearly certainly knew about Wagner's participation in the Syrian-led attack.

Putin, with Iran's help, turned the tide of the seven-year war by committing air- and manpower to buoy Assad's beleaguered forces in 2015, quieting USA calls for the Syrian leader's immediate removal.

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