At least four members of Russia’s special forces have been killed in Syria on Saturday, the investigative website Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), which monitors Russian military activity, has reported.
Makeshift memorials said that the four FSB Special Operations Center officers were killed on the same day “while performing special tasks in the Syrian Arab Republic,” photographs of the memorials posted by the CIT on Sunday showed.
The Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Special Operations Center was established by then-FSB chief Vladimir Putin as a domestic and international counterterrorism outfit in 1998.
The CIT, which said it had been investigating the FSB unit’s role in Syria, noted that it could not independently verify online reports of the officers’ deaths.
The Baza Telegram channel reported that the four officers “fell into the hands of militants” after their vehicle had hit a landmine near the northern city of Aleppo.
“They were later found shot to death,” Baza, which has links in Russia’s security services, reported Monday.
According to social media posts cited by the CIT, the Special Operations Center officers were killed by mortar fire.
Neither the FSB nor the Defense Ministry have officially confirmed or denied reports of the four officers’ alleged deaths yet.
Russia was reported to have officially confirmed 116 personnel deaths in Syria as of last spring. Moscow does not acknowledge the deaths of private military contractors, whose activities are illegal under Russian law.