Russians killed in clash with US-led forces in Syria, say associates

Russians killed in clash with US-led forces in Syria, say associates

Syrian pro-government forces patrol in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour in November.

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

The US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis played down the incident, saying: "This could just be a local couple of guys doing something".

Washington at the time said it was not ruling out the possibility that Russian contractors could have been among the attacking force.

What happened in the U.S. strikes?

They crossed the Euphrates River, shelling an SDF base, where American advisers were present. The U.S. official put the death toll in the fighting at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured, but was unable to say how many were Russians. The contractors have been active in Syria since the Kremlin launched its intervention in September 2015, according to Russian news reports.

USA forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to one US official and three Russians familiar with the matter.

Russia's denied any official involvement. The government controls the western side and the SDF the east. Elements of both sides are fighting the last remnants of the Islamic State group in Syria.

However, Russian law forbids the hiring of mercenaries or working as one. The Other Russia group said Ananyev was killed in battles near the Syrian town Khasham, where the US coalition carried out its strikes.

The reports cited activists who confirmed that at least four Russian citizens were killed in Syria last Wednesday.

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Putin has emphasized that no uniformed Russian soldiers were killed in the strike.

Ionov said not all those killed were Russian: Some of the paid fighters came from other countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.

The Sochi Congress, in which all segments of the Syria people including Syrian Kurds had participated, proved that the Syrians are firmly committed to their country's unity and safety, which is clearly highlighted in the final statement of the Congress, Bogdanov clarified.

Moscow's reticence on the matter underlines a key Kremlin balancing act: preventing anti-American sentiments stoked daily on Russian state television from getting out of hand.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm either man's death.

"We don't have information about other Russians who might be in Syria". I can't give you anything on that.

Alexey Zhuravlev, a nationalist member of the lower house of parliament, reacted with outrage: "The tragic day of February 7 can be seen as the beginning of an open war of aggression by the West against the Russian people", he said.

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

The Syrian government has rejected United Nations-led efforts to form a committee to rewrite Syria's constitution, a central demand of the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue held in Sochi, Russia last month.

The rift deepened after Turkey launched an operation targeting the YPG in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria on January 20, despite calls by the us for restraint. In the following figures, the number of the killed soldiers of the Russian private military company "Wagner" has reached more than 200 people. In recent days, rumors swirled online in Russian Federation that large numbers of those military contractors had perished under American fire.

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