Reuters recently claimed that at least 40 Russian soldiers and private contractors had been killed in Russia’s campaign in Syria so far this year, saying, “the country’s involvement deepens”.
According to the Reuters report, which is said to be based on accounts from families and friends of the dead and local officials, the figure over the first seven months of this year shows “a significant rise in the rate of battlefield losses” as it estimated that some 36 Russian armed personnel and contractors were killed in Syria over the previous 15 months.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said 10 servicemen had been killed fighting in Syria so far this year. Moscow also announced that 23 other servicemen had lost their lives in the Arab country in 15 months spanning from 2015 to 2016.
“This is not the first time that Reuters is attempting to discredit by any means Russia’s operation aiming to destroy ISIL [Daesh] terrorists and return peace to Syria,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Wednesday.
He said the Russian military was focused on delivering humanitarian aid and negotiating peace in Syria.
The spokesman also rejected information about the presence of Russian private military contractors in Syria as “a myth”.
The Kremlin also denied any connection of the state to Russian private citizens fighting alongside the Syrian army.
“If there are Russian citizens in Syria as volunteers and so on, they have nothing to do with the state,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.
Since 2015, Russia has been conducting cruise missile strikes and aerial attacks against terrorist positions in Syria at a request from the Syrian government.