Syria conflict: 'Russians killed' in United States air strikes

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Italian counterpart in Moscow

Audio recordings emerged on WhatsApp, purporting to be calls between unidentified individuals describing an attack by Russian contractors that were thwarted by the SDF who got help from United States firepower after they "raised the American flag".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking on a conference call with reporters, said he had no information about any such casualties.

The Kremlin and the Pentagon do not have any information on the alleged deaths of Russians during a USA attack in Syria, respective officials have told journalists.

A representative of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Ayman Soussan, said during Tuesday's press conference "we are not bound by anything that is formed by foreign sides, whatever their name or state, we are not bound by it, and it is of no concern to us". "I advise you to contact the defence ministry". "We have not received that word at Central Command or at the Pentagon", he told a media briefing on Tuesday.

But at least two Russian men fighting informally with pro-government forces were killed in the incident in Deir al-Zor province, their associates told Reuters on Monday.

On Tuesday, it was reported that activist of The Other Russia party, Kirill Ananyev was killed as a result of the US-led attack in the north of Syria, RIA Novosti said with reference to coordinator of the party, Alexander Averin. This group, named after the retired Russian officer that leads it, is linked to Russian military and security forces and has operated as an arms-length formation in both eastern Ukraine - although Russia has denied direct military involvement in the conflict there - and Syria.

Russian mercenaries in Syria were killed last week in a deadly clash when United States forces carried out air strikes against a pro-regime force, a United States official and three Russians who have knowledge about the matter reportedly revealed.

"Coalition officials were in regular communication with the Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted, unprovoked attack", Veale said.

While the U.S. has claimed all of its recent attacks on pro-Syrian forces in the country as "self-defense", the claim rings hollow since they've killed in excess of 100 people while sustaining no casualties of their own, and doubly so in this latest case because they were defending a drone by killing three soldiers of unknown origin. The incident left 25 militiamen wounded.

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Their target was a base of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which came under artillery fire.

Most, if not all of the soldiers were affiliated to the pseudo-mercenary Wagner military group.

Without mentioning the US strike, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted Tuesday that "Americans have taken risky unilateral steps".

The state Tass news agency on Tuesday cited Natalya Krylova, a municipal lawmaker in the town of Asbestos in the Urals, as saying local residents Igor Kosoturov and Stanislav Matveyev were killed in Syria on February 7.

Vladimir Loginov, a 52-year-old Cossack from Russia's western Kaliningrad exclave "died in an unequal battle in the area of Syria's Deir Ezzor", the Baltic Cossack Union in Kaliningrad said in a statement, according to AFP.

"I also think it is essential to account publicly on interactions with the United States since the danger of an accidental or intentional direct military engagement between Russian Federation and the United States is growing", Yavlinsky said in a statement.

Mattis called the situation "perplexing", noting that the reported attack on the SDF base, which allegedly brought about the deadly American retaliation, "makes no sense, it does not appear to be anything coordinated by the Russians". Those claims couldn't be verified.

Liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky, who is running for president in Russia's March 18 presidential election, urged Putin to come into the open regarding the deaths of Russians in Syria, saying that official silence on the subject was "unacceptable".

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.

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