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Russian general's death from roadside bomb in Syria sparks U.S. intrigue

“It’s rare for a Russian major general to be in a convoy in Syria, let alone get blown up there,” a U.S. security source said.

Updated: August 19, 2020 - 2:17pm

American intelligence analysts are working to decode the unusual death Tuesday of a Russian major general whose convoy hit a roadside bomb in Syria. Two other Russian troops were hurt in the blast from the improvised explosive device.

“It’s rare for a Russian major general to be in a convoy in Syria, let alone get blown up there,” a U.S. security source told Just the News. “We don’t know how to read it.”

Aside from the question of why a major general - the equivalent of an American one-star - was traveling via road convoy, analysts do not know whether the general was targeted, or if he died by accident, the source said.

“Did someone detonate a deliberate explosion to take him out, or was this a freak event?” the source said. “That’s what we’re looking at.”

The unnamed major general was a senior military adviser, according to Russia's state-run Ria Novosti news agency. “The incident occurred on the sidelines when the convoy was returning after a humanitarian action near Deir ez-Zor,” the outlet reported, citing comments from Russia’s defense ministry. The general died during evacuation, while being treated for his injuries. 

Russian troops are serving in Syria, in what Moscow casts as a threefold mission: to separate Turkish and Syrian forces in the country's north; to perform humanitarian work; and to join the Syrian Army in the fight against what remains there of ISIS. 

Earlier this month, Russian military officials reported "an aggravation of the situation” around the energy-rich Deir ez-Zor. Tuesday's blast occurred near the At-Taim oil field.

The deadly incident underscores Russian and other operations in Syria overall, an expert on Russian military affairs told Just the News.

“Today’s news report of the death of an unidentified Russian major general while operating as part of joint activities with Turkey in Syria shows the continued importance of Russia’s ‘boots on the ground,’” author David Isby said. “They have continued to have an active military involvement – including air assets and the use of mercenaries – that leads to their suffering and inflicting casualties.”  

The incident sheds light on other relationships in the area, he said.

“It also shows that Russia and Turkey continue to actively cooperate at the sharp end of the conflict in Syria, despite their past hostility and divergent goals,” Isby said. 

The region where the major general died has long been the site of conflict and violence. Russian engineers went into Deir ez-Zor three years ago to clear mines from local roads, according to a 2017 report from the Russian Ministry of Defence, which noted that its technicians deactivated some 1,000 explosives. Among them were at least 100 roadside bombs.

The major general who was killed on Tuesday posthumously was given a state award, and his family will be given "all the necessary assistance," Ria Novosti reported.

The Russian Ministry of Defence did not immediately return emailed questions from Just the News.

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