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14 February 2018, 06:55 | Katrina Lee
Reports: Russian Military Contractors Killed in US-Led Attack in Syria
I don't have any reporting that some Russians, non-Russian Federation soldiers, but Russian contractors, were among the casualties. "One cannot rule out that Russian citizens can be on Syria's soil".
The US maintains regular with the official Russian military and has established hotlines to ensure the forces don't come in, but increasing reports point to Russia using contractors to fight in Syria.
Syrian state news agency SANA described the action as an "aggression" by the coalition against "popular forces" who were fighting ISIS and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
The strike was the second by the US against pro-Syrian regime forces last week, according to the USA military's Central Command.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian says the drone saw the tank "that took a shot at us", and that he believes the USA rules of engagement allowed for the tank to be destroyed in self-defense to protect the drone.
Mr Assad is backed by Russian Federation, as well as Shia militia groups themselves backed by Iran, while the United States 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 Moscow-based Conflict Intelligence Team, which monitors Russian involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, on February 12, identified three Russians it said were among those killed. We can only operate data on the servicemen of Russian Armed Forces, who take part in the operation of the Russian Airspace forces supporting the Syrian Army.
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On Tuesday, US Central Command said US forces came under fire from a tank, and that they responded with strikes from drones and B-52 bombers against the attackers. The Guardian reported air force Lt Gen Jeffrey Harrigan as saying that US advisers had been in an operating base when they came under tank fire.
"Pro-regime forces initiated what appeared to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces east of the Euphrates river", Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement, referring to the SDF, which the US has trained, equipped, and backed for years.
Russian mercenaries in Syria were killed last week in a deadly clash when U.S. forces carried out air strikes against a pro-regime force, a USA official and three Russians who have knowledge about the matter reportedly revealed. "I advise you to contact the defence ministry". Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of USA air forces in the Middle East, told reporters a broad range of US air power was unleashed. "We have not received that word" at key USA military headquarters, including the Pentagon.
The death toll from the skirmish, already about five times more than Russia's official losses in Syria, is still rising, according to one mercenary commander who said by phone that dozens of his wounded men are still being treated at military hospitals in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The US military said it destroyed the tank after it moved within firing range of US-backed forces.
The Syrian conflict, which began as an uprising against Bashar al Assad's government during the Arab Spring in 2011, has ravaged the country and turned into a 16-year war. Strelkov wrote on his Vkontakte page on February 10 about "several hundred" killed and injured Russian mercenaries.
Russian media also cited unconfirmed claims that overall casualties could have been as high as 200 and Russians could have accounted for the bulk of them.
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