'Dozens' Of Russian Mercenaries Reportedly Killed In US Airstrikes In Syria

For now, the coalition can not confirm who the pro-regime forces were, Dillon said.

"I don't have any reporting that some non-Russian Federation soldiers, but Russian contractors were among the casualties", Mattis told reporters traveling with him in Europe.

The Kremlin has sidestepped questions about the episode, even as it faces rare criticism at home over its failure to acknowledge the deaths of Russians in Syria. He called on Putin to report publicly about "the actions of Russian troops in Syria at present and the number of deaths of Russian citizens regardless of their military status".

Syrian Arab trainees await commands from an instructor at a Syrian Democratic Forces' rifle marksmanship range in Northern Syria, July 31, 2017. The Pentagon said no U.S. or SDF forces were killed by the tank.

The aggressive strike on the T-72 tank occurred on Saturday near Al Tabiyeh, in Deir Ezzor province, the Pentagon said in a statement.

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"If many Russian citizens were killed, officials, including the commander-in-chief, must tell the nation about it and determine who is responsible for that", he said.

Yury Barmin, a Middle East analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank set up by the Kremlin, said Russia supports Assad's efforts to reclaim the "crucial" eastern region of Deir Ezzor to help fund his national reconstruction and reconciliation plan, which the USA opposes. "I advise you to contact the defence ministry".

U.S. forces stationed with Syrian Democratic forces troops on the base responded with artillery fire and air strikes.

Scores of Russian soldiers fighting as mercenaries in Syria were killed last week in an attack on a base held by USA and Kurdish forces in the country's Deir Ezzor region, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

United States officials say hundreds of fighters aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the town of Khursham in the Deir al-Zour province. On Monday liberal presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky said: "If massive Russian casualties took place, then relevant officials. must announce this to the country and find out who is responsible".

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"Those steps look increasingly like part of efforts to create a quasi-state on a large part of Syrian territory - from the eastern bank of the Euphrates River all the way to the border with Iraq", he said.

President Trump has said that Russia constitutes one of its top national security threats, but has also cultivated a cozy relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also told reporters in Istanbul that ties between Turkey and the USA are at a "very critical stage", the Associated Press said.

In the past two weeks, in addition to the Iranian drone incident and the Israeli strikes, Kurdish fighters in Syria shot down a Turkish helicopter that was attacking them last week, killing two Turkish soldiers on board, and Syrian rebels shot down a Russian fighter jet.

Russian Federation has waged a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, helping Syrian President Bashar Assad's government seize large chunks of territory and turn the tide of war into its favor. Strelkov wrote on his Vkontakte page on February 10 about "several hundred" killed and injured Russian mercenaries.

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Some media reports suggest that dozens of Russian fighters could have been killed.

  • Ryan Wade