Exclusive: Death certificate offers clues on Russian casualties in Syria
13:00, Saturday, 28 October, 2017
An official document seen by Reuters shows that at least 131 Russian citizens died in Syria in the first nine months of this year, a number that relatives, friends and local officials say included private military contractors.The document, a death certificate issued by the Russian consulate in Damascus dated Oct. 4, 2017, does not say what the deceased was doing in Syria. But Reuters has established in interviews with the families and friends of some of the deceased and officials in their hometowns that the dead included Russian private military contractors killed while fighting alongside the forces of Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The presence of the Russian contractors in Syria - and the casualties they are sustaining - is denied by Moscow, which wants to portray its military intervention in Syria as a successful peace mission with minimal losses. The Russian defense ministry did not immediately respond to detailed questions submitted by Reuters. Requests for comment from the Russian consulate in Damascus did not elicit a response.