USA airstrike said to kill Russians

14 February, 2018, 19:27 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Mueller charges Russian nationals for meddling in US election

The U.S. -backed Kurdish-led forces have been vying with Russian-backed Syrian troops reinforced by Iranian-supported militias for control of the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province.

It said in a statement last week that the operation came after some 500 pro-government forces attacked a group of US-backed opposition forces in the region.

Briefing reporters by video at the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, who heads Air Forces Central Command, said "deconfliction" conversations between the USA and Russian militaries in Syria continued on a daily basis.

However, reports have surfaced alleging that at least five Russian men fighting informally with pro-government forces were killed in last week's clashes.

The Interfax news agency reported that a Cossack group in the westernmost Kalningrad region said a member named Vladimir Loginov was killed in combat in the Deir el-Zour province. Alexander Averin, a spokesman for the nationalist party he was linked to, told Reuters Ananiev had been killed in shelling in the same fighting on Feb 7.

Leviev said his group has confirmed the death of eight Russian private military contractors in the USA strike based on social media.

"We are focused on a singular enemy - ISIS", said the Air Force general.

Retired Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, head of the defense committee in the lower house of Russia's parliament, said the government needs to oversee private military contractors.

Russian Federation also denies having personnel in the area.

Vitaly Naumkin, a Russian government adviser on Syria, said: "No one wants to start a world war over a volunteer or a mercenary who wasn't sent by the state and was hit by Americans". They have nothing to gain by fighting us.




Putin has emphasized that no uniformed Russian soldiers were killed in the strike.

"The Russians professed that they were not aware when we called them about that force that had crossed [the Euphrates]".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that, from Russia's point of view, the United States seems like it is planning to stay in Syria for a long time, maybe even forever.

The strike was the second by the US against "pro-regime" forces since Wednesday, according to the USA military's Central Command.

However, Russian law forbids the hiring of mercenaries or working as one.

The US says it killed more than 100 fighters in the strikes last week. Some Russian lawmakers have called for legislation that would set rules fro private military contractors.

A Pentagon official said it was an MQ-9 Reaper that struck the tank with a precision-guided munition.

Mattis, speaking to reporters Tuesday while traveling in Europe, was adamant he knew of no Russian contractors killed in the fighting, which he attributed to a surprising assault in light of obvious USA advantages, including overwhelming air power. "I advise you to contact the defence ministry".

Grigory Yavlinsky, a liberal politician who is running in the election, called on Putin on February 13 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". The firm has not commented on the reports. Moscow helped turn the tide of the conflict in his favor by launching a campaign of air strikes in 2015 and stepping up its military presence on the ground.

An unknown number of private military contractors have also died.

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