Moscow Rejects Reuters Report On Syrian Casualties

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 2, 2017

He accused Reuters news agency of "trying to discredit Russia's operation to destroy the Islamic State (IS) terrorists and facilitate the return of peace in Syria".

Earlier in the day, Reuters reported that the actual death toll of Russian soldiers and private contractors was at least 40 since the beginning of this year.

Any Russian private citizens fighting with pro-government forces in Syria are volunteers and the Russian Defence Ministry has nothing to do with them, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

"There have been no alleged "secret" graves of Russian servicemen killed in Syria".

The last time Russian Federation lost airmen in Syria was in August, 2016, and it suffered its first serious casualties on the ground this year in January, when six private military contractors died in one day.

Russian military losses that occur during special operations in peacetime are classified, according to a decree signed by Putin in 2015, just four months before Russia launched its operations in Syria fighting with Syrian troops against opposition forces and Islamist fighters.

Reuters says that, of the 40 allegedly killed, 21 were private contractors and 17 were soldiers. Reuters was unable to determine the status of two other people.

"The Russian Defense Ministry is well aware who is behind this publication and who helped prepare it", Konashenkov stressed.

The number given by Reuters is far higher than official figures given by the Defense Ministry, which puts the death toll this year at ten servicemen.

"Unlike the British military, which is illegally deployed in Syria, Russian soldiers are risking their lives... as they deliver humanitarian aid to the Syrians or reconciling the warring parties", it said.

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