Russian top diplomat praises Kazakhstan's contribution to Syrian peace settlement

Russian top diplomat praises Kazakhstan's contribution to Syrian peace settlement

In Syria's Deir-e-Zour region, US and coalition commanders said they observed a week-long build-up of Syrian government and paramilitary forces near the lines of the USA -backed coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, said Air Force Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Jeffery Harrigan.

The Conflict Intelligence Team, a Russian opposition group that has monitored developments in Syria, provided three other names: Alexi Ladigin of Ryazan and Stanislav Matviev and Igor Kostorov of Kaliningrad.

Moscow, Feb 15 Five Russian citizens were likely killed in a US-led coalition bombing on pro-regime Syrian fighters last week, Moscow said today, acknowledging non-military casualties in the attack for the first time.

"We have signed a roadmap, not only in the field of electricity, but also oil and gas, covering the restoration of oil fields and the development of new deposits", Kovak was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. The outlet said the assault may have been a rogue operation. There was, however, no mention that numerous fighters killed were Russian mercenaries.

On Tuesday, associates of two Russian fighters confirmed to the BBC that they were killed on 7 February. The intense response by the U.S.is, in part, thought be due to US military "advisors" being embedded with the Kurdish rebel forces.

The Kremlin, which has provided crucial military support to its ally, Mr. Assad, has been equally opaque about what happened.

More than 40 Russian military personnel have died in Syria since Moscow launched a campaign of air strikes in September 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Harrigan emphasized that the attack of Russian mercenaries was not a surprise, since before the United States watched the gradual build-up of forces in the area. "Therefore the attack was not likely to have been a "mistake".

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"Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted, unprovoked attack", U.S. Colonel Thomas F. Veale, a military spokesman, said in a statement. In the shoot out at Deir ez-Zor, the Russians probably lost between 20 and 30 Wagner men; the others killed were probably Iranian Afghans, and the number dead is between 100 to 200.

Commenting on the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the attack showcased that the real goal behind Washington's "illegal military presence in Syria" was control over the country's economic assets rather than defeating the terrorist group ISIL.

"What we are seeing in Syria today not only imperils the de-escalation arrangements and regional stability, it also undermines the efforts for a political solution. It is extremely hard to monitor them and to check what they are doing", Zakharova said.

"The Russians professed that they were not aware when we called them about that force that had crossed [the Euphrates]. As it came closer they were notified when the firing began".

"I want to stress once again that we are not talking about Russian servicemen", Zakharova said, without any clarification as to who the Russian nationals were or what they were doing in northern Syria. "However, there is no true and reliable information, unfortunately".

The Russian Foreign Ministry says five Russians have been killed in a U.S. strike in Syria, the first official recognition of Russian deaths in the incident that has threatened to further strain Russia-U.S. ties.

And responding to a further BBC question, the spokesman said: " And, of course, you have to realise that many countries of the world have quite large numbers of our compatriots - of Russians - and, of course, it's hard to have detailed data. It's not clear who was paying the soldiers of fortune, whether it was Russian Federation directly, its allies in the war, Syria and Iran, or a third party.

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