Associates of Russian military contractors fighting alongside government forces in Syria have said there were large-scale casualties among the contractors when USA -led coalition forces clashed with pro-government forces in Syria's Deir al-Zor province on February 7. They counted on the US having too little time to target them without risking casualties among its mainly Kurdish allies, but strikes began when only half the force had made it to the base, Kommersant newspaper reported, citing a former comrade of the mercenaries. Colonel Thomas F Veale, a U.S. military spokesman said that the coalition forces had acted in "self defence" and "targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes".
But Bloomberg say that two administration officials in the USA government say the country is in talks with Russian Federation in search of an explanation for what happened.
We review the key developments in Syria, including reports that Russian fighters were among those killed by coalition airstrikes, the United Nations saying current violence is the worst the conflict has ever seen, and Turkey accusing the USA of stalling the fight against ISIS.
Mattis last week dismissed any suggestion that Russian Federation had any control over the attacking force, whose nationalities, motives and makeup he could not identify. If Russian deaths from the USA strike are confirmed, it would mean the two countries were on the verge of a direct military confrontation in Syria. "We don't have data about other Russians who could be in Syria". Some unverified accounts suggest hundreds, but this is likely to be an exaggeration.
The names of most of the victims identified so far were first reported by the Conflict Intelligence Team, a group of Russian investigative bloggers. He says his group has managed to verify six Russian deaths.
Ionov was not the only one speaking out about Russian fatalities. In an interview published in Znak.ru, a news portal based in Russia's third city of Yekaterinburg, Yelena Matveyeva confirmed the death of her husband Stanislav Matveyev, 38.
"The truth has to be told", he said. Indirect fire generally refers to artillery or mortar fire. "We are focused on a singular enemy: ISIS".
Syria, entering its seventh year of civil war, is now a patchwork of competing claims and forces from around the globe.
Russian forces are supporting the Syrian government in its war with opposition groups, some of which are backed by the United States.
Turkey is conducting a cross-border operation in the enclave to rout a USA -backed Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara considers to be a "terrorist" group. Syria retaliated with anti-aircraft missiles, downing an Israeli F-16 jet.
However, Harrigian refused to speculate on the composition of the hostile force. The US is going along with that, although defense chief James Mattis called the entire situation "perplexing". Moscow's defense ministry issued a statement denying the involvement of any Russian service members. Wagner's unofficial status made such a legalistic statement possible.
Asked about the reports, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in Moscow on February 13 that the government only knows about the actions of the Russian military in Syria.
On Saturday, Israeli fighters bombed Syrian and Iranian military forces after an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace.
The use of mercenaries, which remains illegal in Russian Federation despite some talk of regulating it, allows Russian Federation to avoid reporting casualties, according to Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague.
"When he was leaving, he said that he was going to help Syrian people", Buga said. Putin and Trump spoke by phone on Monday, but reportedly did not discuss the Syria incident. "I strongly believe they made a decision to. not blow it up into a bigger scandal", Mr Frolov told the Independent. It's unclear what effect this incident, if true, will have on Russia-US relations.