Chairman of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Defense Committee Vladimir Shamanov told reporters on Wednesday that media reports about a large number of Russians killed in a U.S. attack on February 7 are deliberate misinformation.
The U.S. strike in Syria on forces supporting the government of Bashar Assad last week killed several Russian mercenaries, according to multiple reports.
The fact that the death toll hits baker’s dozen is revealed by ataman of the Baltic Separate Cossack District Maxim Buga, who is familiar with one of the deceased – Cossack Vladimir Loginov.
The ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the five Russians killed in the February 7 clash in the eastern Deir el-Zour province were not military personnel.
Pro-regime forces in the ruined city of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria. A United States detachment was at the base.
“Coalition officials maintained regular contact with Russian counterparts via established de-confliction lines to avoid misperceptions and miscalculations that could endanger each other’s forces”, the statement added. As a result, as many as 200 members of that battalion-sized unit were killed in USA -led air and artillery strikes. It said a total of 23 people were killed, including 15 Russians. The other casualties werre believed to be regime fighters of the al-Baqir brigade.
Russia’s assistance has proved to be a major success as Syria has managed to liberate key areas over the past years, including the second largest city of Aleppo.
They are thought to be among the 100 or so dead after the clash.
Wagner is registered in Hong Kong and has no public offices in Russian Federation and no contact details.
There’s a refinery in Deir Ezzor that once funded Islamic State operations that’s now “crucial” to Assad’s plans to finance the reconstruction of Syria once a peace deal is finally reached, according to Yury Barmin, a Middle East analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow.
On Tuesday, Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters in Moscow that Russian companies are interested in contracts to help refurbish damaged oil pipelines and wells.
Russia’s military said it was not involved in the attack and the claim was accepted by the US.
Of course, if indeed Russian soldiers were killed while fighting under covert circumstances – in the same way as killed U.S. “The purposes for their stay in war zones are different, including participation in hostilities”, Zakharova said, noting that it was hard to trace all of them.
The Russian Defense Ministry charged that the incident reflected a U.S. push to grab Syria’s economic assets under the cover of fighting the Islamic State group.
The Russian official insisted those killed in the clash were not members of the Russian armed forces. The contractors have been active in Syria since the Kremlin launched its intervention in September 2015, according to Russian news reports.
For days, rumors have swept through Russian social media that far more than a handful of Wagner contractors were killed in last week’s engagement. “It is beyond doubt that this incident indeed took place. So, I think both sides will be more careful”.
If those numbers hold, it could be the deadliest clash between citizens of the United States and Russian Federation since the end of the Cold War.