Russian group struck in Deir ez-Zor Province in east
Five Russian troops and four journalists have been wounded in a landmine explosion in eastern Syria.
The latest casualties in a rising toll among Russian forces came on Monday near Deir ez-Zor city, fully captured by pro-Assad forces from the Islamic State last week.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement:
On November 6, when Russian journalists worked in a dwelling quarter in the city of Deir ez-Zor (Syria), a controlled landmine was detonated by terrorists.
As a result, four Russian journalists, namely Ilya Ushenin (NTV), Timur Voronov (NTV), Konstantin Khudoleyev (Zvezda) and Dmitry Starodubsky (Zvezda), and five officers of the International Mine Action Center, who were clearing the area of mines, received wounds.
All the wounded were taken to the Russian airbase near Latakia in western Syria. The ministry said, “According to medics, their lives are out of danger.”
Russia’s intensive military intervention to prop up the Assad regime, with thousands of air raids and including military “advisors” on the ground, was launched in September 2015; however, the number of its killed and injured has risen sharply this year. The Defense Ministry has officially acknowledged the deaths of 16 military personnel, but Reuters has documents anther 26 fatalities this year among private “contractors” who make up much of the Russian effort on the frontlines.
Among those slain is Lt. Gen. Valery Asapov, the highest-ranking Soviet/Russian officer killed since 1945. He was the commander of the 5th Army in eastern Russia before deploying in eastern Syria, where he died in a mine explosion in late September.
Maj. Gen. Pyotr Milyukhin was seriously wounded in March by a roadside bomb near Tiyas in central Syria, losing both legs and an eye.
Islamic State explosive devices also killed General Issam Zahreddine, one of the Assad regime’s iconic commanders, in mid-October.
White Helmets Call for Aid for Besieged East Ghouta
The White Helmets civil defense organization has called on the international community to provide aid to besieged East Ghouta near Damascus, where almost 400,000 residents face the prospect of malnutrition and even starvation.
Despite the Russian-backed declaration of a “de-escalation zone”, the Assad regime has continued attacks and tightened the four-year siege. Doctors have warned that one person is dying each day as a result of the siege, and the UN has said that 1,500 children are at risk.
Addressing UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres, international organizations, and the guarantor states of the de-escalation agreement — Russia, Turkey, and Iran — the White Helmets called for lifting of the siege in accord with international law and the principles of human rights.
The Association of Pharmacists in East Ghouta also called for the opening of humanitarian and commercial crossings with Damascus.
The association said most drug stocks are exhausted, with medical centers sometimes using expired medicines. It said the shortages had led to an increase in deaths among patients with cancer or kidney conditions.
The pharmacists added that more than 400 medical cases need to be evacuated to hospitals outside East Ghouta, but this would drop to 100 if necessary drugs were available.