The head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, who, after the resignation of Rex Tillerson, US President Donald Trump nominated for the post of Secretary of State, spoke of the deaths in Syria of "a couple of hundred Russians." He made this statement during the hearings on his candidacy for the post of head of the State Department, in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate of the US Congress, Time reports. What happened, as specified by The Hill, he presented as "evidence of the rigidity of the Trump administration in relation to Moscow."
"In Syria a few weeks ago, the Russians met a worthy opponent. [As a result of this clash] a couple of hundred Russians were killed, "Pompeo said. What kind of incident he says, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency did not specify, noting, however, that all Russians were killed by the US military.
Earlier, about the death of "dozens of Russians" in Syria, citing their own sources, as well as sources in American intelligence, representatives of the group of investigators Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), Iranian agency Fars, American television channel CBS News, Bloomberg, as well as "Novaya Gazeta" and "Moskovsky Komsomolets" and other media. This, according to their interlocutors, occurred immediately after February 7, the forces of the international coalition, fighting with terrorists led by the United States, inflicted a massive air strike on the pro-government forces of Bashar Assad in the Deir-ez-Zor area.
Such actions, as explained later in the headquarters of the coalition, were a response to the attack of Syrian government troops on the position of the Kurdish "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDS), which in the civil war supports Washington. The Russian Defense Ministry then explained this attack by the operation of Assad's supporters against the "sleeping" cell of the terrorist organization "Islamic State" banned in Russia.
Later it became known that in addition to the Syrians, Russian mercenaries from the private military company Wagner also participated in the attack on the SDS positions. In this case, the number of deaths as a result of the coalition of Russians, according to sources from different media, varied. CIT reported about eight dead Russians, RBC later managed to confirm this data and talk with their relatives. At the same time the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported 40 killed and 72 wounded, Novaya Gazeta wrote about 13 dead, Kommersant referring to the Russian military source - about 11 Russian citizens, Bloomberg then told about the "200 dead" as a result of the strike , "Most of which," according to the interlocutors of the agency, were Russians, Reuters on February 15 wrote that in Syria since February 7, about 300 people who worked in the "Russian private company" were killed or wounded.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov then called such reports "attempts to speculate in the war." The official representative of the foreign policy department, Maria Zakharova, in turn, admitted that under the blows of the international coalition led by the United States, Russian citizens could perish. "According to preliminary data, as a result of an armed clash, the causes of which are being clarified, it may be the death of five people, presumably Russian citizens," she said.
In the Kremlin, at the same time, there was no information on this. "As you know, in this case we are working with those data relating to the servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation who are taking part in the operation of the Russian military command center in support of the Syrian army. Data on other Russians who may be in Syria, we do not have. We recommend that you contact the Ministry of Defense on these issues, "said Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian president.