BEIRUT (AP) – The Latest developments on the war in Syria (all times local):
A paramilitary Russian group says it has identified one of the men reportedly captured in Syria by the Islamic State group as its member.
The development comes after IS released a video on Tuesday purporting to show two Russian soldiers the extremists claim to have captured in fighting in eastern Syria. Russia’s Defense Ministry insisted no Russian servicemen have been taken in Syria.
It wasn’t possible to verify the authenticity of the video or confirm the identities of the individuals shown in it.
A Cossack unit called the Great Don Army issued a statement late on Tuesday, saying one of the two men has been identified as a local Cossack. The unit told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday that it had no information how the man, Roman Zabolotny, ended up in Syria.
The Cossacks, members of a semi-military group which traditionally guarded the far-flung outposts of the Russian empire, in recent years have been seen attacking opposition gatherings in Russia.
They played a prominent role in a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. Cossack commanders publicly admitted crossing the border from Russia into eastern Ukraine to help local separatists. Entire towns close to the Russian border were under Cossack control at some point during the conflict. The Russian government has denied that it was backing the Cossacks.
Russia’s military says it has carried out airstrikes in Syria that critically wounded the leader of an al-Qaida-linked group and killed 12 other militant commanders.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said in a statement on Wednesday that the airstrikes wounded Abu Mohammed al-Golani, leader of the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee.
He says the strikes took place on Tuesday at an undisclosed location in Syria.
Konashenkov says 50 other militants who were securing the gathering were also killed.
There was no immediate comment from the militant group.
Moscow has blamed the al-Qaida-linked group for attacking Russian military police in Syria’s western Hama province last week.