UPDATE #1 - 11:38 am ET: While Bloomberg's original report put last week's death toll at over 200, the New York Times and other American news outlets are reporting far more conservative numbers. The reports cited activists who said that at least four Russian citizens were killed in Syria on Feb 7. The US responded with airstrikes that killed about 100 of the attackers, according to the coalition, with the rest retreating.
Fifteen Russians employed in Syria by a private security company were killed in a separate explosion several days ago, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday.
He added, "This is executed as self- defense, and we are going to defend ourselves". "As the hostile forces turned west and retreated, we ceased fire". Days later, a United States jet destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank that had fired on U.S. and SDF forces, the Pentagon told Business Insider.
The US and Russian Federation are now involved in a proxy war in the region, with Putin supporting al-Assad forces and Trump training and equipping the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The two sides have clashed over the past year while trying to drive Islamic State (IS) militants from their last major stronghold in the country. And US and Russian military officials maintain daily contact to avoid battlefield mishaps. There was, however, no mention that numerous fighters killed were Russian mercenaries.
The Russian citizens are fighting in Syria for a private military company, according to numerous reports. Already Grigory Yavlinsky, a veteran liberal politician who is running for president in elections next month, has called on Putin to disclose how many Russians had been killed in Syria and in what circumstances.
The US military claimed in a statement that the operation came after some 500 pro-government forces attacked a group of US-backed opposition forces in the region.
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Bloomberg has also identified the mercenary outfit involved in the attack. The use of non-Slavs is aimed at making identification of the mercenaries as Russian paramilitaries hard.
"If there have been mass deaths of Russian citizens in Syria, then the relevant authorities, including the general staff of the Russian armed forces, have a duty to inform the country about this and decide who bears responsibility", Yavlinsky said on Twitter.
The attack on pro-Damascus forces wasn't the first one carried out by the US-led coalition.
Scores of troops, mostly a mix of Russians and Ukrainians fighting on the side of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, stormed the base held by United States and Kurdish forces in the Deir Ezzor region, Bloomberg News reported.
News media highlighted the denounciations of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, on the preparation of a provocation on the part of extremist groups in the province of Idlib, where they transferred 20 gas cylinders full of chlorine.
On Tuesday, Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak announced that Moscow had signed a "roadmap" agreement with the Syrian government for the recovery and development of oil and gas fields.