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Published in Press Stream:
October 20, 2015

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Published in Stream:
October 20, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Ambassador to Syria Denies Reports of 3 Russian Soldiers Killed in Combat; Reports Remain Unconfirmed
4 years
Stream: October 20, 2015
Publication: Putin in Syria
Russian Air Strike Kills FSA Commander In Latakia Province

Reuters reported today, citing a pro-government source, that 3 Russian soldiers were killed and several more wounded when a shell hit their position in the coastal province of Latakia.

As Reuters reported:

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which monitors the conflict, told Reuters that his sources in the area had confirmed the deaths of Russians, but did not have a figure. He said he believed they were not regular Russian forces but volunteers.

The pro-government source, who is familiar with military events in Syria, said that at least 20 Russians were at the post in the Nabi Younis area when the shell struck.

"It's a 90 percent probability that the shell was fired by the militants," he told Reuters, referring to insurgent groups that the Syrian army, backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, has been battling in the area.

A Syrian blogger had reports of even more troops killed:

But an independent Russia blogger tracking the wars in Ukraine and Syria said he could not confirm the deaths.
The Russian Embassy in Syria had no confirmation.

TASS reported that the Russian ambassador in Syria said (translation by The Interpreter):

 "We do not have any information about any supposed 'death of three Russians' or 'three Russian serivcemen' in Syria, which Reuters reported. All of this looks like the latest information plant."

The Kremlin would find it hard to confirm deaths in combat as official spokesmen have repeatedly claimed that no Russian troops have been deployed to Syria, only "advisers."

To be sure, the head of the parliamentary committee for defense admitted that volunteers would likely go to Syria, and one mercenary known for fighting in Ukraine has reported that he has recruited fighters for Syria. The speaker of the Russian parliament then denied that Russia would send ground troops.

Last month, before the start of the Russian bombing campaign, there were reports of 10 Russian soldiers killed which were never confirmed.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick