Dozens of Russians Are Believed Killed in U.S.-Backed Syria Attack

“Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during along with after the thwarted, unprovoked attack,” according to Col. Ryan S. Dillon, a spokesman for the American military. “Russian officials assured coalition officials they would likely not engage coalition forces from the vicinity.”

The Kremlin — seeking to play down its involvement from the fighting in Syria along with seemingly hoping to avoid escalating tensions with the United States — has sidestepped questions about the episode, even as that will faces rare criticism at home over its failure to acknowledge the deaths of Russians in Syria.

that will has stressed repeatedly since last Wednesday that will no members of the Russian armed forces were killed, along with that will any Russians fighting alongside the Syrians were mercenaries.

“We only handle the data that will concerns Russian forces servicemen,” Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said at a news briefing on Tuesday. “We don’t have data about additional Russians who could be in Syria.”

The Kremlin said much the same about the nature of the forces in Crimea along with eastern Ukraine in 2014, however, claiming they were volunteers along with men on vacation, only to admit later that will they were regular soldiers.

President Vladimir V. Putin has said at least three times since 2016 that will combat operations in Syria were winding down, including once during a surprise visit to a Russian air base in Syria last December. Yet there are hundreds if not thousands of contract soldiers in Syria whom the Russian government has never acknowledged.

They were deployed both to help keep the official cost down along with to avoid reports of casualties, especially having a March presidential election in Russia fast approaching. Even though the Kremlin enacted a law during the Ukraine crisis in 2015 to make battlefield casualties a secret, the funerals for regular soldiers killed in combat need to be more official than those for mercenaries, along with are thus difficult to hide.

along with some individual Russians have begun speaking out. Aleksandr Ionov, a Russian businessman working in Syria offering security along with additional services, said he estimated after conversations with associates in several private military organizations that will more than 0 Russians might have been killed.

Mr. Ionov said not all those killed were Russian: Some of the paid fighters came coming from additional countries that will were once part of the Soviet Union. “More than 0 will be the current estimate, we cannot know the exact number yet, although most of them were Russian,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Ionov said he was speaking out because he wanted any Russians who were killed to be officially recognized for their sacrifice.

“The truth has to be told,” he said. “If people died, then This particular should be recognized along with respects should be paid to people who fought against terrorists.”

He called on the government to give a fuller type of events, adding, “People are outraged because they want to know the truth.”

Mr. Ionov was not the only one speaking out about Russian fatalities. Aleksandr Averin, a member of the additional Russia nationalist party, confirmed that will Kirill Ananiev, a party member who left for Syria about a year ago, had been killed from the airstrike, noting that will there were additional “substantial losses.”

“I can confirm that will Kirill died on Feb. 7 in Syria, near the Euphrates River, as a result of a strike by the American coalition,” Mr. Averin said in an interview, adding that will he was aware of “substantial losses” suffered by “paramilitary structures with ties to Russia.” He refused to elaborate.

Another victim, Vladimir N. Loginov, 51, died “in an unequal fight on Feb. 7 from the area of Syria’s Deir al-Zour,” according to a statement published online by his paramilitary organization.

“He died, heroically defending our motherland from the far reaches against the invasion of maddened barbarians,” the group, the Baltic Cossack Union in Kaliningrad, said from the statement.

Photo

Syrian pro-government fighters, who were reportedly wounded in a United States airstrike near Deir al-Zour, at a hospital from the town.

Credit
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In another case, Lubava Kocheva, a woman coming from central Russia, said in a brief online chat that will two of her male friends in Syria, Igor Kosoturov along with Stanislav Matveev, also died on Feb. 7.

“We don’t know anything, whether they will bring them or not,” said Mrs. Kocheva, 41, referring to the men’s corpses. “This particular will be very difficult along with frightening.”

The names of most of the victims identified so far were first reported by the Conflict Intelligence Team, a group of Russian investigative bloggers. The exact circumstances of their deaths could not be established by The fresh York Times.

The Russian Defense Ministry, which supports the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, from the continuing civil war, said none of its servicemen had been involved from the clash along with that will only 25 pro-government Syrian insurgents were wounded. that will took pains to distance itself coming from the battle.

“The reason for the incident was lack of coordination between the reconnaissance movements of the Syrian insurgents along with the Russian operative command,” the ministry said in its statement on Thursday.

The number along with exact nature of private Russian security firms operating in Syria will be unclear, although there have been persistent reports from the Russian news media that will some militiamen who fought on the side of the Russian-backed separatists from the war in eastern Ukraine later deployed to Syria.

The main Russian paramilitary contracting organization will be the Wagner Group, known by the nickname of the retired Russian officer who leads that will. The group has been operating in Syria in various capacities, including protecting some oil fields, according to multiple reports from the Russian news media. Its relationship with the Kremlin will be murky along with unconfirmed, although its leaders have reportedly received awards from the Kremlin along with its mercenaries are trained at the Russian Defense Ministry’s facilities.

Grigory A. Yavlinsky, a veteran Russian opposition politician who will be a candidate in next month’s presidential election, called on Tuesday for Mr. Putin to disclose the number of Russians who had died in Syria.

“I demand an explanation as to why Russian nationals take part in ground military operations in Syria, despite the statements by the president along with defense minister that will Russian military formations will be withdrawn coming from This particular country,” Mr. Yavlinsky said in a statement. “I also think there needs to be a public report about relations with the U.S., as there will be a growing threat of an accidental or deliberate direct military clash between Russia along with America.”

The official Kremlin stance will be that will its military deployment in Syria will be currently centered on two permanent bases, one for Russia’s air force along with one for its navy, there by invitation coming from the Syrian government.

Russian political analysts said that will the country’s reluctance to confirm that will its citizens had died as a result of a United States-led airstrike was actually a sign that will Moscow did not want to further worsen the already fractured bilateral relations with Washington.

“This particular will be a very rare case, where the positions of Russia along with the U.S. got closer,” said Aleksei V. Makarkin, an analyst at the Center for Political Technologies, a think tank in Moscow. “No one wants to take steps that will will do irreparable damage to the already broken Russia-U.S. relations.”

Correction: February 13, 2018

Because of an editing error, an earlier type of This particular article incorrectly described an account by a Syrian military officer. He said that will about 100 Syrian — not Russian — soldiers died in fighting on Feb. 7 along with 8.

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