A grave of Russian contractor Maxim Kolganov, who was killed in combat in Syria, is pictured in his hometown of Togliatti, Russia, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Maria Tsvetkova
Reuters: Ghost soldiers: the Russians secretly dying for the Kremlin in Syria
The start of this year proved deadly for one unit of about 100 Russian fighters supporting President Bashar al-Assad's troops in northern Syria.
On Feb. 3, 38-year-old Maxim Kolganov was killed in a firefight with rebels near Aleppo when a bullet pierced his body armor and heart. Then, on March 9, the same unit came under shell-fire near Palmyra, and Sergei Morozov, also 38, was hit and died on the way to hospital.
Back in southern Russia, medals were delivered to their families: the order of bravery, with certificates signed by President Vladimir Putin. The medals, seen by Reuters, were intended to honor the sacrifice they had made for their country.
Except Kolganov and Morozov were not employed by the Russian state. They were in Syria as private contractors, a small part of an army of such people who are being deployed secretly by the Kremlin in Syria.
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WNU Editor: It has been known for a long time that Moscow uses contractors in Syria .... they have adopted how the U.S. used contractors to fight its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere (albeit at smaller numbers). And while the number of Russian casualties from the Syrian war are still low .... it is getting attention .... especially on Russian social media.