Published: Wed, February 14, 2018

Russia Plans To Help Syria Rebuild Devastated Oil, Power Industries

Russia Plans To Help Syria Rebuild Devastated Oil, Power Industries

CIA Director Mike Pompeo also refused to confirm specifics when asked whether the U.S. was responsible for killing Russian contract soldiers in Syria during a hearing on Tuesday, but said, "We have seen in multiple instances foreign forces using mercenaries in battles that will begin to approach the United States". But so far, this hasn't become an worldwide incident because of one key word in that description: "citizens".

Some of those Russians killed were said to be mercenaries for the secretive Russian private military group Wagner, which has provided thousands of contract soldiers to help the Assad regime. US Defence Secretary James Mattis, said that he had read the reports about the Russian deaths, but that "we have not received word" confirming anything.

Russian Federation officially withdrew regular forces from Syria in December after two years of fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad, but hundreds of private military contractors and mercenaries remained. The New York Times said that "dozens" of Russians were believed to be killed. The contractors have been active in Syria since the Kremlin launched its intervention in September 2015, according to Russian news reports.

In a second episode, the USA struck a Russian-made T-72 battle tank on Saturday after it "took a shot at us" in the same general area of Deir el-Zour province, Harrigian said, adding that he did not know who was operating the tank.

"I don't have any reporting" about Russians being among the casualties, Mattis said.

"We have signed a road map, not only in the field of electricity but also oil and gas, covering the restoration of oil fields and the development of new deposits", Novak was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on February 13.

Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, did not comment on the reports of Russian deaths, saying the Kremlin only tracks data on Russia's armed forces.

According to US Central Command, American and Kurdish forces came under fire from a tank, prompting three hours of intensive air strikes against an estimated 300 to 500 fighters loyal to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Some observers alleged that the attackers might have been tempted to take over the oil facilities because of a rumored relocation of some of the Kurdish fighters there to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, which is facing a Turkish offensive.

The incident appears to be the first publicly known case of the USA military firing on and killing Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian news reports Tuesday described just such a scenario, with an unknown number of Russian military contractors killed in a ferocious USA counterattack last week.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone Monday, but neither side publicly mentioned Syria as a subject of their call.

"This is a big scandal and a reason for an acute worldwide crisis", said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and lawmaker who's now an independent political analyst.

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

Meanwhile, an unknown number of Russians working for private military companies have been serving alongside regular Russian troops. Associates and activists have confirmed the death of at least four Russian citizens there.

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