USA drone destroys Russian tank in eastern Syria's Deir el-Zor

US forces drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah

With Islamic State, which once controlled large swaths of Syria, now largely defeated, rival powers and militias are fighting in various combinations to fill the vacuum.

In a statement last Wednesday, the U.S. coalition spokesman Colonel Thomas F. Veale refused to go into details about the possible make-up of the militia, saying they would "not speculate on the exact make-up of the Syrian pro-regime forces who conducted the attack".

No U.S or allied troops were hurt in the incident, but three people inside the tank were killed by a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, a defense official told Fox News on Tuesday.

They were deployed both to help keep the official cost down and to avoid reports of casualties, especially with a March presidential election in Russian Federation fast approaching, analysts have said.

Last week the United States unleashed an air and artillery barrage on Syrian government-backed troops after some 300 attackers launched what appeared to be a coordinated assault on Syrian opposition forces accompanied by USA advisers in the province of Deir el-Zour. No fatalities were reported on the coalition side and "enemy vehicles and personnel who turned around and headed back west were not targeted".

Russian media have been reporting that dozens of Russians were among those killed when the US -led coalition conducted air and artillery strikes on February 7, killing an estimated 100 pro-regime fighters, according to a coalition statement.

"It's not as simple.to sort out exactly who everyone is down there, and we need to allow that to work its way through", Harrigian said.

For days, rumors have swept through Russian social media that far more than a handful of Wagner contractors were killed in last week's engagement.

Assad's government in Damascus called the USA military action "barbaric" and a "war crime". And U.S. and Russian military officials maintain daily contact to avoid battlefield mishaps. He said by phone on condition of anonymity that dozens of his wounded men are still being treated at military hospitals in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

The reports of Russian deaths in the incident in Deir al-Zor come amid persistent tension in U.S.

Last month, Russian Federation signed an energy agreement with Syria pledging to rebuild the country's electricity infrastructure.

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Bloomberg has also identified the mercenary outfit involved in the attack.

Russian mercenaries are reportedly being used for two purposes: to achieve objectives that the poorly trained and equipped Syrian Arab Army are not capable of achieving alone, and to hide the true cost of Russia's involvement in Syria. Moscow helped turn the tide of the conflict in his favor by launching a campaign of air strikes in 2015 and stepping up its military presence on the ground.

"If there has been mass deaths of Russian citizens in Syria, then the relevant authorities, including the general staff of the Russian armed forces, have a duty to inform the country about this and decide who bears responsibility", he said.

The US says it killed more than 100 fighters in the strikes last week.

"This is a big scandal and a reason for an acute worldwide crisis", Frolov said.

Russian Federation does not rule out that the United States intends to stay in Syria for a long time, "if not forever", he went on.

Leviev said his group has confirmed the death of eight Russian private military contractors in the US strike based on social media.

The Sochi congress was convened and organized by the Russian government, who have urged the global community to avoid direct military or other interference in Syria's seven-year-long civil war.

"The Russians told us they had no forces there initially". They reported that they had a training base in Russia's Krasnodar Krai region, and that numerous men in the group had fought in Ukraine's Donbas war on the side of the separatists.

Citing Natalya Krylova, a municipal lawmaker in the town of Asbestos in the Urals, the state news agency Tass said local residents Igor Kosoturov and Stanislav Matveyev were killed in the strike. The views expressed in these articles are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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