Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it possible that there are Russian citizens in Syria, but if there are, they have no connection to Russia’s Armed Forces. This was the politician’s comment on the Russian deaths in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor.
“We at the Kremlin do not have concrete, detailed information which would enable conclusions to be drawn. The possibility cannot be excluded that there are Russian citizens in Syria. But they are in no way connected to the Russian Armed Forces. But they do, of course, remain Russian citizens,” Peskov emphasized.
The president’s press secretary also stressed that the Kremlin does not possess any more information, and it does not intend to prohibit Russians from traveling to Syria.
Reporters were interested in whether mourning would be declared in connection with “the death of a large number of Russian citizens”. Peskov replied that the Kremlin does not have information on any deaths, and so the question on mourning does not make sense.
A number of news outlets have published stories stating that on February 7, US aircraft carried out an airstrike against Russians who were fighting on the side of the pro-government forces in Syria as part of the Wagner Private Military Company. The quoted death toll figures range between 20 and 200. On February 13, Peskov said that the Kremlin has no information on the incident, and recommended that inquiries be directed at the Defense Ministry. The Defense Ministry reported that there were 25 wounded Syrians, but made no mention of any Russian citizens.
The Wagner Private Military Company is an informal military organization which has been involved in combat in the Donbas (on the separatists’ side) and in Syria (on the Assad government’s side).