Led forces 'killed, hurt 300 Russians' in Syria

Children play in the yard of a kindergarten in the Lenin state farm with the Disneyland-like towers in the background

The Russian defence ministry did not respond to Reuters questions about casualties in Syria.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova emphasized, however, that the five victims weren't Russian servicemen.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia last week said that it was "not realistic" to impose a ceasefire because armed groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces were unlikely to uphold it. Russia has resorted to its veto power at the council 11 times to block resolutions targeting its Syrian ally.

"All of this is subject to confirmation, particularly whether they are all citizens of Russian Federation or other countries..."

Russian Federation on Thursday accused the USA of arming Kurds across Iraq. Predominant anti-Russian tendencies in Washington's policies will scarcely subside before the midterms scheduled for November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Euronews channel on Friday.

Russian forces are supporting the Syrian government in its fight against opposition groups, some of which are backed by the United States, and elements of both sides are fighting the last remnants of the Islamic State group in Syria.

"I will not speculate on the composition of this force or whose control they were under", said Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Citing an unnamed US official and three Russians it said were familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported on February 13 that "U.S. forces killed scores of Russian contract soldiers" in the incident. They are employed by a secretive Russian company known as Wagner.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing a re-election vote on March 18 and any reports of large numbers of Russian deaths in Syria could create a public relations problem for him. "And if some officials in this country find this very hard - no one forces them to stay in power".

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Alexander Baunov, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the government would wait out the uproar to minimize the political damage. "I don't have any reporting that some Russians, non-Russian Federation soldiers, but Russian contractors, were among the casualties".

The push for oil assets appears to have been the top mission for Russian private contractors in Syria.

The reports of Russian deaths in the incident in Deir al-Zor come amid persistent tension in U.S.

It was unclear why pro-government forces acted so brazenly on February 7 despite facing the obvious risk of a punishing USA counterstrike.

The coalition warned the Russian military and proceeded to strike the formation, killing up to 100 people.

The US said it called the Russian military to inform it of the strike before letting loose what multiple reports called a significant air offensive.

So how do we know the Russians attacked USA forces in Deir ez-Zor deliberately?

"A U.S. taskforce and other units are illegally staying in Syria, without any invitation from the legitimate government in it or a United Nations Security Council mandate", Lavrov said in an interview with the Euronews television channel. "I'd like to emphasize once again that we're not talking about Russian military personnel", reported The Moscow Times.

Canikli said he presented documents to Mattis proving "organic" links between the YPG and Kurdish rebels in Turkey.


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