Moscow says five citizens likely killed in US Syria strikes

Moscow says five citizens likely killed in US Syria strikes
Russia has acknowledged the deaths of five citizens, dismissing claims that at least 100 Russian mercenaries were killed in US strikes on Syria's Deir az-Zour last week.
2 min read
15 February, 2018
The deadly clashes took place last Wednesday in the oil-rich region of Deir az-Zour [Getty]

Five Russian citizens were likely killed in a US-led coalition bombing on pro-regime Syrian fighters last week, Moscow said on Thursday, acknowledging non-military casualties in the attack for the first time.

"We are possibly talking about the deaths of five people, supposedly citizens of the Russian Federation. Others are injured. But this all requires verification, in particular their citizenship. We are not talking about Russian soldiers," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

At the time of the attack in Deir az-Zour last Wednesday, the Russian defence ministry insisted it had no servicemen in the eastern province of Syria.

However, many Russian citizens are fighting in Syria as mercenaries working for a private military company called Wagner, according to numerous reports.

Some media reports said dozens or even hundreds of Russian mercenaries were killed in the attack but Zakharova dismissed these claims as "classic disinformation" spread by anti-regime militants.

Syria's Deir az-Zour [click to enlarge]

The Kremlin has declined to comment on the attack, saying only that Russian civilians could be in Syria but it did not have detailed information.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in December that Moscow's military brief in the Syrian conflict has been largely completed and ordered a partial pullout of the country's troops.