Russian State Media Self-Censor Casualty Reports in Syria

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"The Russians may have allowed the attack to take place simply to make it clear to Assad that you can't do things without coordination with Moscow", said Yury Barmin, a Middle East analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, a research group set up by the Kremlin. Around 300 men working for a Kremlin-linked private military contractor were killed or injured in Syria last week, sources told Reuters, indicating Russian Federation is more deeply involved in Syria´s war than it has previously said.

The United States and Russian Federation, while backing opposite sides in the Syria conflict, have taken pains to make sure that their forces do not accidentally collide. According to preliminary data, as a result of armed clashes the cause of which is being ascertained, we could be talking about the deaths of five people, presumably Russian citizens.

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.

The Pentagon has said its air strikes in Deir al-Zor last week targeted Syrian government troops that had attacked a base housing USA and Syrian opposition forces, killing about 100 of the attackers. Some reports put Russian losses at 200 or more, and a growing chorus of politicians and commentators slammed the Kremlin for failing to acknowledge the casualties.

Despite numerous protests from Ankara, the USA has supplied the PKK with weapons and then announced the establishment of certain "border forces" which mainly consist of Kurds to provide security on the Syria-Turkish border.

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The U.S. has said it believes the hostile forces were looking to seize territory the SDF had liberated from ISIS back in the fall of 2017. When Mattis and other USA officials publicly discuss the US mission in Syria, they say only that it is to fight the Islamic State group.

The open-source Conflict Intelligence Team investigative group, meanwhile, has named nine Russian Wagner fighters who were killed in the February 7 attack in Syria. If Mattis acknowledges the obvious - that the Kremlin authorized a direct assault on a USA -sponsored base by non-uniformed personnel - he risks an escalation spiral in Syria.

Bloomberg cited two of its Russian sources as saying that more than 200 mercenaries, majority Russians, were killed, and The New York Times cited a Syrian military officer as saying about 100 Russians were killed. The Russian Defense Ministry insisted its troops weren't involved in the clash but said 25 Syrian volunteers were wounded. However, information about Russian casualties is only starting to trickle out via Russian news organizations and social media.

When reporters asked U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis about the incident, he called the whole thing perplexing. -Russian relations, which are strained by disputes over Syria and several other issues. Both came out of Russian Federation. Putin is widely expected to secure a fourth term in the controlled political environment, but analysts say he wants high turnout and a convincing victory to bolster his mandate as he heads into what may his last term. The wounded evacuated from Syria in the past few days have been shifted to four Russian military hospitals, according to five sources familiar with the matter.

As the main worldwide backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Russian Federation has committed itself to aiding in the country's reconstruction. This was Moscow's first admission of non-military combat casualties. It has about 5,200 forces in Iraq supporting the Baghdad government in its operations against the terrorists. The Russians are fighting anyone who threatens Syria's President Assad, and Hezbollah is doing Iran's bidding.

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