Published: Sun, February 18, 2018

Is the West interfering in Russia's election?

Is the West interfering in Russia's election?

"In eastern Syria, the Russian Ministry of Defense can say, 'We don't know they were doing this.' But it's very likely this had some kind of direction from higher-ups in the Kremlin".

Previously, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that some Russian citizens could be in Syria but that the Kremlin doesn't have any information about them.

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

Reuters was unable to make direct contact with the contractors' employers, the Wagner Group, whose fallen fighters have in the past received medals from the Kremlin.

The US had said the coalition acted in self-defence when an enemy unit of 300 to 500 fighters launched an attack on an established Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] position east of the Euphrates river in Deir az-Zour province.

The military doctor, who works in a Moscow military hospital and was directly involved in the treatment of wounded men evacuated from Syria, said that as of Saturday evening there were more than 50 such patients in his hospital, of which around 30 percent were seriously wounded. Assad may have hired Wagner to recapture and guard Syrian energy assets in return for lucrative oil concessions, according to Russian media reports.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova emphasized, however, that the five victims weren't Russian servicemen.

Western media's reports about dozens and even hundreds of Russians killed in Syria in an attack carried out by the US-led coalition, is a classic example of disinformation, she said.

Around 600 fighters with artillery and tanks, mostly Russian speakers, took part in the attempt to storm the base, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

Canikli, speaking in Brussels, said he told Mattis that US support for the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as YPG, has helped Kurdish rebels in Turkey "to grow and strengthen", posing an increasingly "existential" threat to Turkey.

US officials who monitor Syria tell me that there is no doubt that the Russian military knew all about the attack in Deir Ezzor. Predominant anti-Russian tendencies in Washington's policies will scarcely subside before the midterms scheduled for November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Euronews channel on Friday.

Along with the Russian military, which has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad's government since September 2015, thousands of Russians have also reportedly fought there as private contractors.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that supporting Donald Trump has never been an official Russian policy, even if some Russians did express their backing of the new U.S. leader.

Russian Federation launched a military operation in Syria in September 2015 which has turned the tide of the conflict in favor of Assad. It's suffered substantial casualties, say activists who track the war. "I'd like to emphasize once again that we're not talking about Russian military personnel", reported The Moscow Times.

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