MOSCOW - Russian fighters were among those killed when US-led coalition forces clashed with pro-government forces in Syria this month, former associates of the dead said on Monday.
A US official has said more than 100 fighters aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad died when coalition and local coalition-backed forces thwarted a large attack overnight on Feb. 7.
Russia's Defence Ministry, which supports Assad's forces in the Syrian civil war, said at the time that pro-government militias involved in the incident had been carrying out reconnaissance and no Russian servicemen had been in the area.
But at least two Russian men fighting informally with pro-government forces were killed in the incident in Deir al-Zor province, their associates told Reuters on Monday.
One of the dead was named as Vladimir Loginov, a Cossack from Russia's Kaliningrad exclave. Maxim Buga, a leader of the Cossack community there, said Loginov had been killed around Feb. 7 along with "dozens" of other Russian fighters.
The other man killed was named as Kirill Ananiev, described as a radical Russian nationalist. Alexander Averin, a spokesman for the nationalist party he was linked to, told Reuters Ananiev had been killed in shelling in the same fighting on Feb. 7.