Four Russian Military officers killed in Syria operation: Officials

Four Russian Military officers killed in Syria operation: Officials

MOSCOW – At least four Russian servicemen, including two military advisers, were killed in Syria after they were shelled by militants, the Russian Defense Ministry said Sunday.

Several groups of militants attacked the Syrian army’s artillery battery in the province of Deir al-Zour at night, killing two Russian military advisers on the spot and wounding another five soldiers, the ministry said.

The injured were immediately taken to a Russian military hospital, but two of them died there, it said.

The RIA Novosti agency said that “a few mobile terrorist groups” had attacked the Syrian army’s artillery battery during the night.

The Syrian and Russian troops fought the militants for about one hour and killed 43 militants and destroyed six cross-country vehicles armed with large-caliber weapons, according to the ministry.

Russia has been participating in the fight against the Islamic State and insurgent groups in Syria since September 2015 at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian servicemen and military facilities in Syria have been attacked by militants several times, causing a number of deaths.

Officially Russia has lost about 90 personnel in the Syrian civil war.

After seven years of war, the Syrian government, backed by Russian and Iranian military muscle, now controls much of central Syria, including the second city, Aleppo.

Rebel forces are now concentrated in Idlib.

Over seven years of war, more than 400,000 people have been killed or reported missing, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

More than half the population of 22 million have been driven from their homes with at least 6.1 million Syrians internally displaced, and another 5.6 million living abroad, the vast majority of them in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon.