The Russian foreign ministry confirmed Tuesday that “several dozen” citizens “who went to Syria of their own accord for various reasons” were killed and wounded—likely at the hands of U.S. personnel during a Feb. 7 attack on an allied airbase. While the ministry did not give a specific date in its statement, the Kremlin previously claimed that “probably five” Russians were killed in an attack in Deir al-Zour province this month. Other reports have estimated that anywhere from 100 to 200 Russian mercenaries were killed and hundreds more injured, from an airstrike that U.S. officials say was launched in “self-defense” against a force of 500 fighters. The admission comes after the Putin government has “downplayed reports of mass casualties,” refused to name the dead, or explain why Russians were in Syria in the first place.
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