A document seen by Reuters allegedly shows that at least 131 Russian citizens died in Syria in the first nine months of this year.
According to Reuters, the document, a death certificate issued by the Russian consulate in Damascus dated October 4, 2017, does not say what the deceased was doing in Syria.
The certificate has the number of 131.
Reuters claims that they established in interviews with the families and friends of some of the deceased and officials in their hometowns that the dead included Russian private military contractors killed while fighting alongside the forces of Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement provided to Reuters on October 27: “We do not have information about individual citizens who visit Syria.” The official death toll of military personnel in Syria this year is 16.
The consular document seen by Reuters was a “certificate of death” issued to record the death of Sergei Poddubny, 36. It was one of three death certificates seen by Reuters.
Poddubny’s certificate, which bears the consulate’s stamp, lists the cause of death as “carbonization of the body” – in other words, he was burned.
It said he was killed on Sept. 28 in the town of Tiyas, Homs province, the scene of heavy fighting between Islamist rebels and pro-Assad forces. Several Russian contractors were killed in the area earlier this year, according to Reuters.
Poddubny’s death certificate had a serial number in the top right corner, 131.
Under a Justice Ministry procedure, all death certificates are numbered, starting from zero at the start of the year and going up by one digit for each new death recorded.