World

US Forces And Russian Mercenaries Clash in Syria

US Forces And Russian Mercenaries Clash in Syria

The wounded were brought to military hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to two people in contact with them, after more than 200 fighters died in last week's failed assault on a base held by US -backed forces in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor region.

If the numbers are accurate, the strike marks the deadliest exchange between Americans and Russians since the Cold War.

The T-72 tank was reportedly preparing to fire at a position held by American forces and US-backed Syrian rebels, in Al Tabiyeh, Syria, on Saturday.

Bloomberg News quoted Russian sources as saying as many as 200 Russian nationals could have been killed in a clash last Wednesday and Thursday around the oil fields of Deir Ezzor region between forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad and a Kurdish-led opposition force supported by U.S. advisers.

It is not clear who was driving the tank and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis played down the incident, saying: "This could just be a local couple of guys doing something".

Grigory Yavlinsky, a liberal Russian politician who is running in next month's presidential election, also suggested there were Russian deaths in Syria.

The US military has now released video of the drone strike that took out the tank.

"It continued to move, so we... executed self-defense rules of engagement to protect ourselves".

Lieutenant Harrigian was careful to avoid speculating who was inside the tank, though the T-72 is widely used by the Syrian army.

Mr Assad is backed by Russian Federation, as well as Shia militia groups themselves backed by Iran, while the USA is supporting the Kurdish SDF forces who have been a crucial ally in battling Isis - the major aim in Syria for the administration of President Donald Trump. With Islamic State, which once controlled large swaths of Syria, now largely defeated, rival powers and militias are fighting in various combinations to fill the vacuum.

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The reports attribute the alleged casualties to a recent United States airstrike and put the figures between 100 and over 600.

The US maintains regular with the official Russian military and has established hotlines to ensure the forces don't come in, but increasing reports point to Russia using contractors to fight in Syria.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman declined to provide any details.

As the main worldwide backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Russian Federation has committed itself to aiding in the country's reconstruction.

"The Russians told us they had no forces there initially".

The reports cited activists who confirmed that at least four Russian citizens were killed in Syria last Wednesday.

For the most part, the US-led coalition has managed to skirt the edges of Syria's civil war by staying focused on the Islamic State group.

In a statement last Wednesday, the USA coalition spokesman Colonel Thomas F. Veale refused to go into details about the possible make-up of the militia, saying they would "not speculate on the exact make-up of the Syrian pro-regime forces who conducted the attack".

The attack took place in the early hours of Thursday when 300-500 pro-Assad troops advanced with tanks and artillery on the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) base.

Several Russians died in Deir Ezzor that day, according to groups representing them.


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