The Russian Defense Ministry has issued a statement today denying media reports of Russian soldiers slain in Syria, saying there were no casualties among Russian military personnel in any incidents on the ground in Syria.
The media reports claimed three Russians were killed in Latakia Province in a shelling. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they had sources confirm the incident, but that they believed the three to be “volunteers,” not members of the Russian military.
This actually would make more sense, as apart from troops protecting Russian engineers expanding an airfield in Latakia, Russia isn’t known to have much in the way of a ground presence in Syria, and Russian officials had said it was likely “volunteers” from Russia would show up in the ranks of the Syrian Army.
Under Russian law, it is illegal for a Russian citizen to fight as an overseas mercenary, though in practice these “volunteers” are often military veterans in it for the paycheck. Russia rarely enforces the ban, particularly to the extent that the volunteers are fighting with allied factions.