22 February, 2018
Russia's Foreign Ministry offered a surprising confirmation on Tuesday, saying that indeed "dozens" of the people killed in a recent flurry of USA strikes against pro-government forces in Syria were either Russian citizens or citizens of other former Soviet states.
The ministry reiterated that the Russian citizens involved in the recent clashes in Syria were not part of the Russian military force deployed there. While the Kremlin has repeatedly denied having any connection to the fighters, the Foreign Ministry said last week that five Russian citizens had "presumably" been killed.
Russian casualty numbers in the February 7 USA airstrikes in Deir Ezzor vary widely, with some outlets claiming that up to 200 Russian mercenaries were killed while attempting to take over a Syrian oil refinery. "There were also about several dozen wounded".
In recent days, media outlets, open-source researchers, and relatives and colleagues of Russian mercenary soldiers have said that many Russians - possibly dozens or hundreds - may have died in the exchange.
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It said that the wounded had been helped to return to Russian Federation where they were being treated in various medical institutions.
"It is not the place of the Foreign Ministry to assess the legality and legitimacy of their decisions".
As Russia's Defense Ministry announced earlier, the Syrian militia fighters came under the coalition's strikes in the province of Deir ez-Zor on February 7 due to actions uncoordinated with the Russian military.
"In Syria there are Russian citizens who went there on their own and with different goals".