Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Russian Military Contractors Killed in US-Led Attack in Syria

Russian Military Contractors Killed in US-Led Attack in Syria

"Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity".

"I don't have any reporting that some non-Russian Federation soldiers, but Russian contractors were among the casualties", Mattis told reporters traveling with him in Europe.

THIS is the moment an American warplane locks on to a Russian tank in Syria and blows it to bits within an instant. The coalition said that the pro-regime forces were "likely seeking to seize oilfields" in the resource-rich Deir Ezzor, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday the "Americans have taken risky unilateral steps".

In a statement last Wednesday, the United States coalition spokesman Colonel Thomas F. Veale refused to go into details about the possible make-up of the militia, saying they would "not speculate on the exact make-up of the Syrian pro-regime forces who conducted the attack".

Mr Assad is backed by Russian Federation, as well as Shia militia groups themselves backed by Iran, while the USA is supporting the Kurdish SDF forces who have been a crucial ally in battling Isis - the major aim in Syria for the administration of President Donald Trump. The official was unable to say how numerous dead and wounded were Russian. "They are not Russian military servicemen, that's all we can say, but, anyway, our citizens remain Russian citizens, whatever happens", he concluded. "I advise you to contact the defence ministry".

Russian news reports Tuesday described just such a scenario, with an unknown number of Russian military contractors killed in a ferocious US counterattack last week, although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other USA officials said they had no such information on casualties and the Kremlin did not confirm it. USA officials also said the Russian government had lodged no complaint about Russian nationals having been killed.

Syrian state media have reported that the strikes left dozens killed, accusing the U.S. of a "brutal massacre". "We have not received that word" at key USA military headquarters, including the Pentagon.

Two Russians familiar with the matter said more than 200 pro-government soldiers were killed in the conflict.

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The incident came three days after the US-led coalition killed more than 100 forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after shelling and using tanks to fire at the SDF and coalition advisors.

"Those steps look increasingly like part of efforts to create a quasi-state on a large part of Syrian territory - from the eastern bank of the Euphrates River all the way to the border with Iraq", he said.

In the Baltic Sea city of Kaliningrad, a local Cossack conservative group also reported losing one of its own, Vladimir Login, in the attack.

Russia's military has said it had nothing to do with the attack and the USA accepted the claim.

As the main global backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia has become deeply involved in helping the war-battered country rebuild as fighting against Syrian Sunni rebels has subsided in recent months. Strelkov wrote on his Vkontakte page on February 10 about "several hundred" killed and injured Russian mercenaries.

On Tuesday, associates of two Russian fighters confirmed to the BBC that they were killed on 7 February.

Some media reports suggest that dozens of Russian fighters could have been killed.

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