A source with Russian law enforcement and security agencies has branded as provocation and invention reports by the Free Syrian Army that a Russian general identified as Vladimir Kodzhiyev had been killed in Syria.
"A man with such a name holding the rank of general has never existed, and therefore reports on his death can only be nonsense and invention," he said.
A spokesman for the opposition Free Syrian Army had said earlier on Al Arabiya television that Russian Gen. Vladimir Kodzhiyev serving as an advisor to the Syrian defense minister had been killed.
A video statement from a Syrian rebel 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 Kodzhiyev. 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 is no general named Kodzhiyev on the Russian Army staff or any general with a surname similar to that one either phonetically or graphically,” a spokesman with the Russian Defense Ministry has said. He suggested that the rumours about a murdered Russian general could refer to a retired Russian officer or to any retired officer with the former Soviet troops, who are customarily called “Russians.”
Many experts believe this kind of announcements is part of the war of words waged by the Free Syrian Army against the Assad regime to divert attention from the claims of the Syrian officials who have allegedly seized dozens of mercenaries from Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in Aleppo.
Interfax, Reuters, RIA, VOR