June 17, 2016 / 9:31 AM / 3 years ago

Russia says Syria campaign death toll moves into double figures

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian serviceman has died after his convoy in Syria was attacked, the Russian Defence Ministry told local media on Friday, saying he was the tenth Russian soldier to lose his life in the Kremlin’s campaign there.

The ministry was cited as saying that Mikhail Shirokopoyas, who had been sent to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria for three months in April, had been wounded in Aleppo province last month when a column of vehicles he was escorting was shot at.

He had been flown to a military hospital in Moscow for treatment, but had died on June 7, it was quoted as saying.

The total official death toll among Russia’s military is now ten, but only nine of those were combat deaths. One serviceman committed suicide at the Hmeymim air base in October, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.

Shirokopoyas was reported to have been posthumously given an award and to have already been buried in his native Amur region in Russia’s Far East.

In mid-March, President Vladimir Putin ordered the bulk of Russia’s contingent in Syria to withdraw, but Moscow has continued its active support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and, according to some analysts, honed its military capabilities to better help the Syrian army.

Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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