The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced that tens of Russian and CIS nationals had been killed in recent clashes in Syria, emphasizing that they were not military.
"In the course of the recent military clashes, in which the Russian servicemen did not participate in any way […], Russian and CIS countries' nationals were killed and several others were wounded."
According to the ministry, those injured have been assisted in order to return to Russia and have been provided medical aid.
On February 15, when asked to comment on media reports, alleding that a large number of Russian "mercenaries" had been killed in Syria, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that, according to preliminary data, five presumably Russian nationals had died. She emphasized that reports of hundreds of Russian citizens killed in a US-led coalition's airstrike were "disinformation" spread by anti-government forces.
At the same time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that he didn't rule out that Russian nationals, who do not belong to the Russian Armed Forces, could be in Syria.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that militiamen came under fire of the coalition because lack of coordination of actions with Moscow, adding that there were no Russian servicemen in the area.