Photos apparently captured by IS fighters appear to show Russian mercenaries
SKY News: Revealed: Russia's 'Secret Syria Mercenaries'
Sky News speaks to men who claim they were trained and flown on Russian military planes to assist troops loyal to Bashar al Assad.
If Russia is a nation at war, the Kremlin has always been careful to frame its campaign in Syria as an aerial operation.
Other than a limited number of 'instructors and military advisers', Russian officials have repeatedly stated that they do not need to put 'boots on the ground'.
The Russian narrative of low-cost conflict has been seriously challenged however by a group of young Russian men who claim that their country's involvement in Syria is far more extensive - and more costly - than anyone in President Putin's administration is prepared to admit.
These individuals told Sky News that they were recruited by a highly secretive private military company called 'Wagner' and flown to Syria aboard Russian military transport planes.
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WNU Editor: Russian social media is filled with stories of these men (and most of it is negative). But there are many who are still signing up.