More than a hundred Russian soldiers have died since Moscow launched a military campaign in Syria last September to support President Bashar al-Assad, sources close to the Syrian regime told Anadolu Agency.
The sources said hundreds of Russian troops in Syria routinely take part in commanding a number of regime offensives on opposition front lines, while Russian special forces occasionally participate in operations alongside regime forces.
Russian troops are deployed in Latakia’s Jurin, Salma and Rabia districts and Khmeimim Russian military base, the sources said. The troops also assume duties as aircraft and missiles technical teams in Damascus, Hama, Homs, they added.
Also, Russian units are present in the northeastern al-Hasakah province to contribute to works on extending the Qamishli international airport near the Turkish border. On January 19, Syria’s Local Coordination Committees said that 100 Russian troops had been deployed to Qamishli.
The sources told Anadolu Agency that 109 Russian troops have been killed since the start of the military operation on September 30, 2015. Many were killed in clashes while some others died when their transport helicopters were shot down, the sources said.
Causes for the death of Russian soldiers in time of peace are considered a state secret, according to a bill signed into law last year in May by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is also prohibited under Russian law to give information on Russian troops who died in special operations.
Russia support fails to produce results
Despite heavy pounding by Russian military forces, opposition fighters continue to hold on against regime forces in many positions.
According to a report published on January 11 by London-based Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Syrian regime gained only 1.3 percent of land despite Russian air force support for nearly four months. One area where the regime advancement was noticable was Latakia’s Turkmendagi area.
Opposition forces are still in control of half of Aleppo province and protect their gains in Idlib, which they captured almost entirely last year. Regime attacks supported by Russian air force have also failed to advance in Hama and Homs, while opposition fighters went on to secure Eastern Ghouta in Rif Dimashq despite heavy bombardment.
Syrian opposition also made strategic gains against the regime since Russia’s campaign began, seizing Hama’s Atshan and Kafr Nabuda villages, as well as the strategic Morik town.