Reuters reports that Russia has suffered 18 combat fatalities in Syria since January 29, more than three times higher than the official toll. The Russian Defense Ministry has publicly reported only five servicemen’s deaths, with no mention of significant Russian ground operations in the fight to regain Palmyra from the Islamic State.Russia’s Conflict Intelligence Team gathered the toll from interviews with relatives and friends of the dead men, cemetery workers, and local media reports of funerals. Reuters independently verified each of the cases by speaking to someone who knows the deceased.
Most of the dead were Russian civilians working as private military contractors under the orders of Russian commanders.
A Russian general, Petr Milyukhin, lost both legs and an eye from an ISIS mine in late February near Palmyra. The serious injuries were acknowledged days later by Russian media. www.mesop.de