U.S., Russia Won’t Confirm U.S. Strikes Killed “Mercenaries” in Syria

(From RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty)

The chief Kremlin spokesman has suggested that if any Russians were killed by U.S. air strikes in Syria last week, they were not regular soldiers, continuing to distance President Vladimir Putin’s government from reports that several Russian mercenaries — and possibly dozens — died after staging an attack on U.S. forces and their allies in the Middle Eastern country on February 7.

“We in the Kremlin do not possess detailed information that would enable us to draw conclusions,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on February 14, amid mounting evidence that Russian contract soldiers fighting on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s side were killed in the incident in Deir al-Zor province.

The Pentagon has said its air strikes in Deir al-Zor last week targeted Syrian government troops that had attacked a base housing U.S. and Syrian opposition forces, killing about 100 of the attackers. U.S. officials say they do not know whether Russian mercenaries were among the casualties.

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