Isis releases video of captured Russian soldiers that Russia denies losing in Syria

Isis releases video of captured Russian soldiers that Russia denies losing in Syria
Wed Oct 4, 2017 11:52:38

Isis released a video Tuesday of two injured men it claims are captured Russian soldiers that Moscow has denied losing.

(newsweek) -- The "proof of life" video was shared by Isis official Amaq news agency and shared via encrypted messaging app Telegram and other forms of social media. The footage depicts two bruised and dirtied European-looking males in grey tunics, one of whom is sporting a beard and handcuffs. One man, who is sitting on the right of the screen, identifies himself and his comrade to the camera, claiming the pair were captured during a Russian-backed Syrian military offensive to retake the eastern city of Deir Ezzor from the group.

"I am Zabolotny Roman, I was born [in] 1979 in Rustav Oblast in Aksaysk District in the village of Rassvet. During a counterattack conducted by the Isis, I was taken prisoner [sic] in the area of Shula," the man said in Russian with Arabic subtitles.

"Captured with me was Tsurkanov Gregory. He was born [in] 1978 in the Domodedovo area," he added, presumably identifying the man sitting beside him.

Isis first claimed Thursday it had captured two Russian soldiers while attempting to stave off an advance by the Syrian military and allies, which included Russian troops and Iran-backed militants, on Deir Ezzor. After securing major gains through central Syria, the pro-government campaign saw early success last month, with the Syrian military breaking a three-year Isis siege on fellow soldiers trapped behind enemy lines since summer 2014.

However, as Syria's armed forces push the terrorists across the Euphrates river that divides the city, they've experienced fierce resistance, including a major counterattack in the southwestern Deir Ezzor village of Shula, as mentioned in the video. In response to Isis claims Thursday, a representative of Russia's Hmeymim airbase in western Syria denied that any soldiers had been captured and the spokesperson repeated these claims on Tuesday.

"All servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces staying in the Syrian Arab Republic are safe and in a good condition and are performing the designated tasks," the spokesperson said, according to state-run Tass Russian News Agency.

"There were no reports of incidents connected with capture or losses among servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces in the Deir Ezzor Governorate and other Syrian areas," he added, with Russia's defense ministry releasing a near-identical statement shortly after.

In addition to condemning an Isis-claimed suicide bombing and gun attack on a police station in Damascus, Russia also said it killed more than 300 Isis fighters and wounded over 200 more in airstrikes outside Deir Ezzor, according to a defense ministry statement cited by the Associated Press. The defense ministry said it had destroyed a training center, artillery positions, tanks and ammunition depots.


(Photo: A man identifies himself as "Zabolotny Roman" (R) and his companion as "Tsurkanov Gregory" (L), two Russian soldiers allegedly captured by Isis in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor in this video credited to ISIS's Amaq news agency. Russia previously denied any of its troops were captured. Social media)

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