The Russian Foreign Ministry said five Russians have been killed in a US strike in Syria. This is the first official recognition of Russian deaths in the incident that has threatened to further strain Russia-US ties.
The ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Thursday's briefing that five Russian citizens were killed in the US strike in the eastern Deir el-Zour province, adding that they were not military personnel. The 7 February-clash marked the first time Russian combatants in Syria died in a US strike – the long-feared clash Moscow and Washington had sought to avoid.
Until Thursday, both Russian and US officials said they had no information on Russian losses in the clash, which came when pro-government forces attacked positions of the US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters and faced a ferocious US counterattack
Turkey's defence minister said he has asked his American counterpart that the United States end its support for Syrian Kurdish fighters and remove them from a US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, that if fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.
In comments televised live from Brussels on Thursday, Nurettin Canikli also said he told US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, that US support for the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as YPG, has helped Kurdish rebels in Turkey "to grow and strengthen," posing an increasingly "existential" threat to Turkey.
Canikli said he presented documents to Mattis proving "organic" links between the YPG and Kurdish rebels in Turkey.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due in Ankara later on Thursday to discuss growing tensions between the two NATO allies.