The lads had been working for a personal Russian firm known as Wagner, which has despatched a whole bunch of personal contractors to Syria to assist each the Russian navy and pro-regime forces, based on individuals who knew them.
One of many lifeless was 51-year-old Vladimir Loginov. Like many contractors who’ve gone to Syria, he was a member of a Cossack group of ultranationalists who’ve additionally fought in japanese Ukraine.
The Baltic Cossack District mentioned in a press release that Loginov was a Russian citizen who was killed in an “unequal battle” whereas “heroically defending our Fatherland in its far reaches from loopy barbarians” when he died on February 7.
“Vladimir died for the Fatherland, the Cossacks and the Orthodox religion!” the group mentioned.
CNN has been in a position to verify the names of at the least three different Russians who had been killed supporting pro-regime militia in a large-scale assault that day. In keeping with US officers, a power of some 500 crossed the Euphrates River close to Deir Ezzor, together with tanks, missile launchers and artillery.
Their goal was a base of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which got here below artillery hearth. A US detachment was on the base. The US responded with airstrikes that killed about 100 of the attackers, based on the coalition, with the remaining retreating.
One of many Russians killed was Kirill Ananyev, based on his pal Aleksandr Averin. He mentioned Ananyev had been in Syria “a bit of over a 12 months” and that he had been killed when “American artillery smashed the Wagner unit.”
Averin mentioned he believed that casualties among the many Russians current amounted to greater than “the everyday Wagner lack of simply a few folks.”
A lot of the casualties, based on native sources, seem to have been members of a pro-regime Christian militia from the city of al Suqaylabiyah. Earlier this week, there was a mass funeral for about 30 members of the militia — which frequently describes itself because the “ISIS hunters” — in the city.
Two sons of a distinguished tribal chief had been additionally killed, based on social-media posts from Syria.
Wagner, which is below US sanctions for supporting separatists in japanese Ukraine, has a number of hundred contractors in Syria, based on analysts. In December, Nikolay Tikhonivch from Tomsk was killed “in the realm of the Hama-Idlib freeway,” based on a social-media put up from the “Rus” patriotic group to which he belonged.
Two Wagner contractors who had been captured by ISIS in November haven’t been heard from since showing in a video quickly after being seized. They’re believed to be lifeless, based on Russian officers.
Wagner is registered in Hong Kong and has no public places of work in Russia and no contact particulars. Efforts by CNN to succeed in the corporate had been unsuccessful.
US Protection Secretary Normal James Mattis has mentioned that the US was puzzled by the assault close to Deir Ezzor final week.
“The Russians instructed us that they had no forces there initially. I believe that is nonetheless the case however we do not have full readability on what the regime forces are doing there,” Mattis mentioned over the weekend.
The US and Russian militaries have de-confliction channels to stop unintended clashes in Syria and alert one another to actions.
“The Russians professed that they weren’t conscious once we known as them about that power that had crossed [the Euphrates]. Because it got here nearer they had been notified when the firing started,” Mattis mentioned.
Neither the Kremlin nor the Russian Ministry of Protection talks about personal navy contractors in Syria. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned Tuesday: “Now we have no data concerning different Russians who could also be in Syria.”
It is extremely tough to estimate the variety of Russians working as navy contractors in Syria and the quantity who’re killed.
For days, rumors have swept by way of Russian social media that way over a handful of Wagner contractors had been killed in final week’s engagement. On Monday liberal presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky mentioned: “If huge Russian casualties occurred, then related officers … should announce this to the nation and discover out who’s accountable.”
Kremlin spokesman Peskov rejected Yavlinsky’s assertion, saying: “I do not suppose Yavlinsky has extra dependable sources than this.”
There have been many Russian residents abroad, Peskov mentioned, “and it’s extremely exhausting to have detailed data.”