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Kremlin: No information about reports of Russian mercenaries killed in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu talk to each other after visiting an exhibition at the Russian military's headquarters as part of a conference on the Russian campaign in Syria in Moscow, Russia, in this Jan. 30, 2018 photo. (AP)
MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Tuesday it had no information about Russian mercenaries reportedly being killed in Syria, saying it only knew about Russian nationals who had been deployed there as members of the Russian armed forces.
It was responding to media reports citing associates of Russian mercenaries saying some of them had been killed this month when US-led coalition forces clashed with pro-government forces in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.
“We don’t have information about other Russians who might be in Syria,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call when asked about the alleged deaths.
Speaking with reporters in Europe, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he had seen the media reports.
“There is now reporting in the press. I don’t have any reporting that some Russians, non-Russian Federation soldiers, but Russian contractors, were among the casualties. I can’t give you anything on that, we have not received that word at Central Command or the Pentagon,” Mattis said.
In Washington, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the top US Air Force general in the Middle East, said he would not speculate on the forces.
“I will not speculate on the composition of this force or whose control they were under,” Harrigian told reporters.

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