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Exclusive: Russian mercenaries in Syria, Putin's secret army

On February 7, in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, the US army bombed fighters who were advancing towards oil installations held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-backed rebel coalition. Shortly afterwards, the Pentagon said these fighters could be "Russian mercenaries". Moscow is trying to cover up the real death toll from this incident and the role of the private military contractor Wagner, which sends mercenaries to Syria.

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Our Russia correspondent Elena Volochine travelled to the Svedlorsk region, in Siberia, where she met families in mourning.

She also investigated paramilitary organisations in Ekaterinburg. One of its leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, made some surprising revelations. This is her exclusive report.

[Editor's note: We apologise for the poor sound quality of the interview after this report.]

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