A top Ukrainian politician has shared photographs with Sky News showing three dead fighters in military-style fatigues, with their faces clearly visible, along with a number of other indistinguishable bodies.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the national security, said they were foreign fighters who had been killed in the Luhansk region.
An aide to Mr Danilov said the fighters were from Syria and Libya.
“There are a lot of them there and they continue to gather from all over the world,” Mr Danilov said.
It was not possible independently to verify the claim, but Kremlin officials have previously announced plans to recruit up to 16,000 “volunteers” from the Middle East to join its war.
As for how many Syrians had been killed, Mr Danilov said: “It is difficult to say. We don’t count them. We don’t have enough time to count them… No matter how many they send here, they will all be killed.”
Meanwhile The Libya Observer reports that European official said that between 10.000 and 20.000 mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group and fighters from Syria and Libya are currently fighting alongside the Russian forces in Ukraine.
According to the US-based Al-Hurra website, the official who asked not to be named, explained that those mercenaries do not have vehicles or heavy weapons, saying “they were brought in by Russia to support its forces in its invasion of its neighbour.”
“Transfer of fighters has been detected from countries like Syria and Libya, to the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine,” the official said, adding that Russia has recently launched a new phase of its offensive in that region.
The European official pointed out that it is difficult to determine how many of those men are mercenaries from the private Wagner Group, Libyan or Syrian fighters.
Late in last March, the British Ministry of Defense indicated that “more than 1,000 mercenaries” from Wagner, including company officials, were deployed in eastern Ukraine in order to “carry out combat operations”, as the West accuses this Russian paramilitary group of being close to the Kremlin and committing violations in Mali, Libya and Syria.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced earlier that there was an agreement between Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan self-styled military commander based in the east, and Russia to send Libyan mercenaries to fight alongside the Russian forces in Ukraine.
Photo – A still image taken from a handout video made available by the Russian Defence Ministry press service.