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14 February 2018, 06:57 | Colleen Roy
Russians Believed Killed in US Syria Attack
The Russian Defense Ministry said its troops weren't involved in the operation.
"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.
It's not clear who was paying the Russian contingent, whether it was Russia directly, Syria, Iran or a third party. 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 unsafe unilateral steps".
The strike was the second by the US against pro-Syrian regime forces last week, according to the USA military's Central Command.
The Russian-made tank in the crosshairs of a USA drone.
The Russian Defence Ministry has said that none of its soldiers were in the area and suggested that pro-Syrian government fighters may have failed to coordinate their actions with the Russian military.
As to who they killed, USA officials are no more forthcoming than they ever are, with Lt. Gen. Harrigian saying the United States is "not going to speculate" on who they killed, and that they flat out don't know whose tank it was, or who was driving it.
Still, the combat proximity of American and Russian troops - and increasingly American and Turkish troops - is troubling, and provides further evidence of the danger of ongoing USA military activity in the region.
The reports attribute the alleged casualties to a recent U.S. airstrike and put the figures between 100 and over 600.
US-backed coalition forces "conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression" after "20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 metres" of an SDF base - where American military advisers were based. I can't give you anything on that.
The wounded were brought to military hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to two people in contact with them, after more than 200 fighters died in last week's failed assault on a base held by USA -backed forces in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor region.
United States forces stationed with Syrian Democratic forces troops on the base responded with artillery fire and air strikes. "We have not received that word" at key USA military headquarters, including the Pentagon. Officially, 44 Russian servicemen have died in Syria, including the pilot of a warplane shot down this month by militants.
"Those steps look increasingly as part of efforts to create a quasi-state on a large part of Syrian territory from the eastern bank of the Euphrates all the way to the border with Iraq", Lavrov said, in remarks that highlighted the geopolitical jostling in Syria in the wake of the fight against Isis. It also quoted Alexander Averin, leader of extreme leftist group Another Russia, as saying that one of its activists, Kirill Ananyev, was killed by the USA strike near Khusham. It's also the most visible manifestation of American-on-Russian violence, even if the erstwhile Cold War adversaries were not technically engaged against each other.
The associates named the dead as Vladimir Loginov, a Cossack from Russia's western Kaliningrad region, and Kirill Ananyev, a radical nationalist from Moscow.
As the main global backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Russian Federation has committed itself to aiding in the country's reconstruction. Strelkov wrote on his Vkontakte page on February 10 about "several hundred" killed and injured Russian mercenaries.
Over the weekend, reports emerged on Russian blogs and elsewhere that an unknown number of Russian contract soldiers were killed.
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