Up to 100 Russian soldiers killed in U.S. airstrikes in Syria

Pauline Gross
February 14, 2018

If the high estimates of Russian casualties are confirmed, it would be the most lethal clash between U.S. and Russian citizens since the end of the cold war, and it comes at a time when proxy forces in Syria are increasingly coming into contact, as they compete for territory vacated by retreating Islamic State militants.

More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by US and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said.

Mr Assad is backed by Russian Federation, as well as Shia militia groups themselves backed by Iran, while the United States is supporting the Kurdish SDF forces who have been a crucial ally in battling Isis - the major aim in Syria for the administration of President Donald Trump. The attack was reportedly called for by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia and lasted for about four hours.

Also beyond doubt is the ferocious scale of the US attack on February 7, in response to what the USA military called a barrage of artillery and tank fire from several hundred "pro-regime" fighters in Deir el-Zour province, an area in eastern Syria where remnants of the Islamic State have converged among oil fields.

The reports of Russian deaths in the incident in Deir al-Zor came amid persistent tension in US-Russian relations, which are strained by disputes over Syria and several other issues.

The Pentagon says a counterattack aimed at defending US forces in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province a week ago went on for more than three hours and involved B-52 strategic bombers, AC-130 gunships, F-15E attack planes, Apache attack helicopters and Reaper drones.

It was also a symbolic blow to perceptions of Israel in the region, the New York Times reports: The last time an Israeli aircraft was brought down by enemy fire was three decades ago. He gave no estimate of casualties.

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The river acts as a border between the coalition and Russian and Syrian forces, and the Pentagon also described the SDF location as well-known, and that therefore the attack wasn't a mistake. Erdogan has been ramping up his rhetoric of late, too, threatening to move Turkish forces toward Manbij - where USA troops are stationed.

Russian media said Russian private contractors and pro-government forces advanced on oil fields in the eastern Deir el-Zour province and were targeted by the United States. Fighters involved in the February 7 assault in Syria were linked to Wagner, two people familiar with the matter said, a shadowy private military contractor which has a training camp at a commando base in southern Russian Federation. A US official said at least 100 pro-government fighters were killed by coalition defenses.

The American press unveiled a video of the drone attack of the US-led global coalition in northern Syria.

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 Wednesday.

Leader of the Cossack forces in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave Maksim Buga put the number of people killed at "dozens", while speaking to Reuters.

They were deployed both to help keep the official cost down and to avoid reports of casualties, especially with a March presidential election in Russian Federation fast approaching, analysts have said. He also wouldn't even confirm whether Russian nationals were among the dead in the attack. Those claims couldn't be verified. The US-led coalition delivered an airstrike against these pro-government forces.

Other reports by GizPress

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