Colonel Dillon said the military was not aware of any direct United States strike on Russian forces.
MOSCOW—Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, according to Russian and Syrian officials.
Aleksandr Averin, a member of the Other Russia nationalist party, confirmed that Kirill Ananiev, a party member who left for Syria about a year ago, was killed in the airstrike, noting that there were other “substantial losses.”
“I can confirm that Kirill died on Feb. 7 in Syria, near the Euphrates River, as a result of a strike by the American coalition,” Averin said in an interview, adding that he was aware of “substantial losses” suffered by “paramilitary structures with ties to Russia.” He refused to elaborate.
The number and exact nature of private Russian security firms operating in Syria is unclear, although there have been persistent reports in the Russian media that some militiamen who fought on the side of the Russian-backed separatists the war in eastern Ukraine later deployed to Syria.