CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State released a video on Tuesday that it said showed two Russian soldiers captured by its fighters in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor, where Russia has been backing the Syrian military against militants.
But the Russian Defence Ministry denied their soldiers had been captured, Interfax news agency reported. The defense ministry, and the foreign ministry, did not immediately respond to requests for comment submitted by Reuters.
In the 42-second video, released on the group’s AMAQ news agency, two men appeared briefly in a room wearing gray tunics. One, with a beard, appeared to be in handcuffs. The other seemed to have bruises on his face.
Reuters could not immediately verify the video.
The bearded man spoke in Russian, the other remained silent, with Arabic subtitles in the video. It was dated Oct. 3, though there was no other evidence when the video was made.
The bearded man, speaking to the camera, gave his name, his date of birth, and his home village in southern Russia. He then said: “I was taken prisoner during a counter-offensive by Islamic State.”
He said he was taken prisoner with a second man, whose name, date of birth and home district he also gave.
Amaq said late last month the militants captured two Russians as they battled in towns around Deir al-Zor. The Russian defense ministry denied then that any military personnel were taken hostage.
With Russian air power and Iran-backed militias, the Syrian army reached Deir al-Zor city in August, breaking an Islamic State siege of an enclave there that had lasted three years as the jihadist group lost ground in Iraq and Syra.
With U.S.-led jets and special forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias is battling Islamic State on the east side of the Euphrates river, as they also capture swathes of Deir al-Zor province from Islamic State.
Reporting by Omar Fahmy in CAIRO and Margarita Popova in MOSCOW; Writing by Amina Ismail and Patrick Markey; Editing by Ralph Boulton