Syria Kurds retrieve body of Russian officer from IS: source
Syrian Kurdish forces have retrieved the remains of a Russian special forces officer from the Islamic State jihadist group, a source on the ground told AFP on Wednesday.
"The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) managed to retrieve the body of a Russian soldier killed during the battle for Palmyra that was in the hands of IS," the source said, without saying how.
Syrian troops recaptured the famed ancient city on March 27 in a major symbolic victory over the jihadists achieved with the support of intense Russian air strikes and special forces on the ground.
Three days earlier, Russian news agencies reported that a special forces officer had been killed while on a combat mission in the Palmyra area identifying targets for the air strikes.
The previous week, IS-linked media reported that five Russian special forces personnel had been killed near Palmyra and published pictures of what it said were their cellphones and video footage of a bloodied corpse.
But there was never any confirmation of those alleged deaths from Moscow.
The YPG, which controls a swathe of Kurdish-majority territory along the Turkish border, is regarded by Washington as the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and has received US military support.
Moscow intervened in support of its Damascus ally in September last year and has since carried out hundreds of air strikes.
Commanders have been more tight-lipped about the presence of troops on the ground.
Russian sappers played a public role in clearing mines planted by IS in Palmyra's UNESCO world heritage site after its recapture.
AFP correspondents also saw Russian gunners manning artillery during the battle for the city.
© 2016 AFP