Until Thursday, both Russian and USA officials said they had no information on Russian casualties in the February 7 clash, which came when pro-Syrian government forces attacked positions of the us -backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria's oil-rich eastern province of Deir el-Zour and faced a ferocious USA counterattack.
As a result, 25 members of the pro-government unit were injured.Initial media reports, citing unnamed US officials, suggested that some 100 Syrian soldiers had died in the assault by the coalition forces.
Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova declared in a briefing, "We're not talking about 400, 200, 100 and not 10..." Even so, this marked the first time Russian fighters have been killed in a USA airstrike in Syria.
But Russia has engaged military contractors because those deaths do not need to be accounted for, niezalezna.pl said. The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, on Thursday marked the 29th anniversary of the Soviet Union's departure from Afghanistan by holding a minute of silence in memory of Russians killed in the war and for those "who died in Syria", Tass reported. "But it's a fig leaf, because their forces are involved".
Dozens of pro-Syrian government fighters, including at least four Russian nationals, were killed after a clash against the United States-led coalition in the eastern part of the country.
The wounded evacuated from Syria in the past few days have been shifted to four Russian military hospitals, according to five sources familiar with the matter.
But after numerous reports of casualties in Syria and capture of two Russians, reportedly from the Wagner group, by IS jihadists a year ago, Russian officials have called for legalising mercenaries.
Utkin and the Wagner group was blacklisted by the US Treasury in 2016 for having "recruited and sent soldiers to fight alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine". "My guess is he said he was perplexed because he was sending a signal to the Russians: I am willing to give you a little time to cut this out, but don't do it again", Farkas told me. When Mattis and other US officials publicly discuss the USA mission in Syria, they say only that it is to fight the Islamic State. "So, I think both sides will be more careful". "The enemy moved in an approximate battalion-sized dismounted formation supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars".
"They have been there consistently for two or three years - nearly for the whole period that the Washington-led coalition has worked in Syria, and all this time, the U.S. special forces and other units are in Syria on the ground, illegally, without any invitation from Damascus, or without any mandate of the UN Security Council", he said.
Several hundred Russian mercenaries were involved in the battle over a Syrian oilfield near Deir Ezzor and came under attack from USA aircraft, possibly the first direct military confrontation between Americans and Russians since the Vietnam War.
In a surprise trip to Russia's air base in Syria in December, Putin said that Russian and government forces had "crushed" terrorists and ordered a partial withdrawal of the Russian contingent there. Still, her statement amounted to official recognition that the victims were part of the force that advanced on the USA -backed fighters. The YPG are key USA partners in the campaign against the Islamic State group.
"I don't understand why a mourning period should be declared", Peskov said Wednesday, in response to a question on last week's casualties during the conference call. The U.S., however, has stated that it may remain in Syria indefinitely to counter what it describes as Iranian influence and to secure "post-Assad leadership" for the country.