Tuesday, October 27, 2015

First Russian killed in Syria named


Blog: Vadim Alexandrovitch, a 19-year-old air force mechanic, has been named as Russia's first casualty in the war, but questions remain about how he died.
Russia's first casualty of the Syrian war has been named after an investigation by a team of Russian journalists.

Vadim Alexandrovitch was a 19-year-old member of the Russian air force from the Rostov region of Russia.

He has recently completed his compulsory military service in the Russian air force, and had signed up to become a professional member of his unit.

There are still few details over where or how Alexandrovitch was killed in Syria, but investigative journalist Ruslan Leviev did pin-point a likely date for his death and said that the young soldier most likely died in conflict.

One friend of Alexandrovitch on the Russian social networking site vk.com said that he was killed on 24 October, along with nine other "Russian guys", which may indicate the personnel died in an explosion.

The fact that the teenager was an aircraft mechanic would rule out the possibility that he died in active fighting, but he could have been attacked when he left his base.

There have been reports in Latakia of a huge increase in the number of Russian military personnel spotted in their uniforms around the city.

Alexandrovitch said that the 19-year-old was part of a unit "in Akhtary", which is home to the Primorsko-Ashtarsk military airbase.

Russia's 960th Close Air Support Regiment is based here and all of the Russian Su-25 Frogfoot jets in Syria are from this regiment.

Alexandrovitych had signed up to this unit just two months earlier, once he had finished his miltary draft.

There were reports on evening on 23 October by Syrian activists of smoke billowing out of an airbase in Latakia that Russia had been using to launch air raids on rebel and IS positions in Syria.

The day before, the Russian ministry of defence reported that a serviceman had died, due to "mishandling ammunition", however, it is likely that this could have been someone else.

Another friend of the air force serviceman said that his parents were informed by the military that he had committed suicide, but later said that he "was found dead".

His body were flown out of Syria on a cargo plane, according to the journalist, although there are still many questions about how the serviceman was killed, and the team are continuing their investigations.

"I will never believe this version [suicide]," said Svetlana, who was wearing a black headscarf. "We spoke every day by phone for half an hour. [On Saturday] he was cheerful, happy, and he laughed," the mother of Alexandranov told Reuters.

Russia's ministry of defence has so far denied that military personnel have been killed in fighting in Syria, but today admitted that a serviceman had committed suicide.

However, there have been continued accusations of Russian military deaths, along with reports of coffins being flown into the Russian-occupied city of Sevastapol in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Russia launched air raids in Syria on 30 September and have, so far, largely targetted rebel opponents of Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and Hama, rather than Islamic State group fighters.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled the aerial attacks while hundreds have died from what appears to be indiscriminate Russian bombing.

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