U.S. vows investigation into deadly Syria attack involving Russian mercenaries

A CONVOY of pro Syrian government fighters arrives in Afrin.—AFP

A CONVOY of pro Syrian government fighters arrives in Afrin.—AFP

"There are Russian citizens present in Syria who went there on their own", the statement said.

Speaking to the forum, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted that there is "a new wave of occupation, of foreign intervention, mainly from the United States, in Syria".

Dozens of Russian and CIS citizens were hurt in a recent skirmish in Syria and some were killed but these were not Russian troops, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

However, according to reports from the United States military command in Syria, only 100 fighters lost their lives in the attack. As outside powers come into direct confrontation with each other, the war in Syria is now taking a new phase which most foreign policy and defense industry commentators say could be detrimental.

But details of the operation have gradually emerged, along with growing anger inside Russian Federation that its citizens' deaths are being quietly ignored as inconvenient bad news ahead of President Vladimir Putin's run for re-election next month.

The Russian government is reviewing a bill that would make private military companies legal, in order to clarify the now murky status of mercenaries engaged in conflicts overseas.

Last year, the Associated Press reported that a Russian company linked to Wagner had been promised 25 per cent of profits from oil and gas fields captured from militant control.

Relatives of the dead are demanding to know what happened.

The Russian Foreign Ministry admitted today that "dozens" of Russian nationals had died in the American airstrike in Syria as a Russian mercenary-led force attacked American-backed positions near an oilfield near Deir Ezzor.

"We have more and more evidence, which makes it possible to doubt that our Western counterparts in the US-led coalition are ready to fight Jabhat al-Nusra in earnest, despite the fact that it has been added to all resolutions and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council", the minister said. Was it from external sources? Mr. Lavrov described the February 7 attacks as a provocative support for the Kurdish fighters whom he claims are seeking autonomy in Syria. "Was it from external sources?Don't ask me.I don't know", the US defense secretary said.

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