Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses soldiers in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses soldiers in Syria

CIA Director Mike Pompeo also refused to confirm specifics when asked whether the U.S. was responsible for killing Russian contract soldiers in Syria during a hearing on Tuesday, but said, "We have seen in multiple instances foreign forces using mercenaries in battles that will begin to approach the United States".

A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone took out a Soviet-made T-72 tank in eastern Syria on Saturday in a "self-defense" strike after pro-regime forces fired on U.S. advisers and allied Syrian fighters.

Then, on Saturday, a U.S. military drone aircraft destroyed a Russian-made T-72 tank near the area around Al Tabiyeh. The mercenaries were said to be mostly Russian nationals fighting under contract for Assad.

A gun battle lasted about three...

"The tank had been maneuvering with coordinated indirect fire on a defensive position occupied by Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisers", said US Marine Corps Maj.

"It can not be ruled out that there may be citizens of the Russian Federation [fighting] in Syria".

Russian Federation has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government crucial support throughout the seven-year war in Syria, which began with a government crackdown on protests. "The Russians have always responded to our calls, we always answer".


"If there has been mass deaths of Russian citizens in Syria, then the relevant authorities, including the general staff of the Russian armed forces, have a duty to inform the country about this and decide who bears responsibility", Yavlinsky, who is running against Putin in next month's election, said on Twitter.

USA airstrikes, in response to what it called an "unprovoked attack, " killed around 100 people in Syria in February according to the Pentagon, but a new report from Bloomberg says that number may be as many as 300, and that they were Russian mercenaries.

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.

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. "Neither side wants the world to know about a direct clash between Russians and Americans". The US is going along with that, although defense chief James Mattis called the entire situation "perplexing".

The Pentagon says it is in constant contact with Russian forces on the ground as part of an existing de-confliction agreement that had been agreed between Washington and Moscow. The coalition said that the pro-regime forces were "likely seeking to seize oilfields" in the resource-rich Deir Ezzor, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday the "Americans have taken risky unilateral steps". However, the pro-regime forces have recently competed with the Kurdish-led SDF in eastern Syria to seize territory rich in oil and natural gas, the New York Times reported.

One thing is clear both Mr Putin and USA officials will face pressure to be transparent about such clashes.

Ionov was not the only one speaking out about Russian fatalities.

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