United Nations envoy: risky, violent, worrying moment in Syria

18 February, 2018, 07:02 | Author: Jason Torres
  • U.S. Forces And Russian Mercenaries Clash in Syria

CBS News notes that whatever their motivations for fighting in Syria, the casualties from last week's battle constitute the first Russians killed by US airstrikes in Syria. Pressed by reporters in Thursday's conference call as to whether Putin ordered information about Russian casualties kept from the public, Peskov denied it.

Their reported deaths come after the US-led coalition struck the Coneco plant last Wednesday in retaliation for an attack on an SDF base near the gas field on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river.

"I can't give you anything on that. They are not affiliated with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation", Peskov said, adding that the citizens of the Russian Federation "remain citizens of the Russian Federation, whatever it takes".

The sources, identified as one US official and three Russians, said the Russians died in a failed attack on a base held by the United States.

The Russian Defense Ministry, which supports Syrian President Bashar Assad in the ongoing civil war, said none of its servicemen had been involved in the clash and that only 25 pro-government Syrian insurgents were wounded. "Most of the fatalities were attributed to an American airstrike on enemy columns that was called in by American-backed Kurdish soldiers who believed they were under attack".

Rankine-Galloway said no U.S. or Syrian rebel forces were killed or hurt in the tank attack, and the Pentagon reported only one SDF member wounded after the attack on Wednesday.

Reports indicate that on Wednesday, a pro-Syrian ground force of 500-600, which included T-55 and T-72 tanks, howitzers, and mobile rocket launchers, engaged in an attack on the rebel held base.

Russian media said Russian private contractors were part of pro-government forces that advanced on oil fields in the eastern Deir el-Zour province and were targeted by the United States.

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According to ISW, private Russian contractors and Lebanese Hezbollah had the primary role in the attack, which was supported by a deliberate act of deception from the Russian military.

"Far from winding down, Syria's civil war is threatening to trigger direct conflicts between the United States and Turkey, Israel and Iran, and even the United States and Russian Federation". "Syria is a land of unlimited riches", Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who led the delegation, said at the time.

Asked about whether there were any Russian mercenary deaths at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on February 13, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said, without elaborating: "From an intelligence perspective, we have seen in multiple instances foreign forces using mercenaries in battles that will begin to approach the United States".

"We will strike the place where these launches are made or where they are organized", he told reporters in Paris.

The death of Russians under direct American, or at least US-led fire would seem a very serious matter.

"The fact that somebody chose to attack us, and the Russians are saying, "It's not us, ' and we are firing on them to stop the artillery fire, that, to me, is not a failure of the deconfliction line", Mattis explained".

"I can confirm that Kirill died on February 7 in Syria, near the Euphrates River, as a result of a strike by the American coalition", Averin said in an interview, adding that he was aware of "substantial losses" suffered by "paramilitary structures with ties to Russian Federation".

And responding to a further BBC question, the spokesman said: " And, of course, you have to realise that many countries of the world have quite large numbers of our compatriots - of Russians - and, of course, it's hard to have detailed data.

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