Russian general denies report of his death in Syria
AMMAN / MOSCOW - Reuters
In this Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 photo, a Free Syrian Army fighter waves from the top of a destroyed army tank in the town of Anadan on the outskirts of Aleppo. AP photoRussian news agencies denied reports that a Russian general had been killed in Syria and said he had appeared in person at the Defense Ministry in Moscow today.
The ministry said reports that a Russian general advising Syria's military had been killed amounted to a "bald-faced lie".
Itar-Tass news agency said a reserve officer called Vladimir Kuzheyev had later met Russian journalists at the ministry and, although he did not say whether he had been in Syria, he declared: "I want to confirm that I am alive and well."
A Syrian rebel group said earlier today it had killed a Russian general working as an adviser to Syria's ministry of defence in an operation in the western Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
A video statement from a group calling itself the "Hawks Special Operations Battalion...a division of the Military Leadership of Damascus City and Province", gave the name of the general as Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev. The video, sent to Reuters, showed what the rebels said was a copy of his ID, as issued by the Syrian military.
The same group claimed responsibility for the assassination of four of President Bashar al-Assad's top lieutenants in Damascus last month.
There was no immediate comment from the Russian authorities.
Russia, which has an estimated several hundred military personnel in Syria, is one of the few countries still backing Assad diplomatically since a popular uprising against his rule erupted 17 months ago.