Russian soldier wounded in Syria dies in Moscow hospital

Militants shell a district in Aleppo. © Mikhail Voskresenskiy
A contract soldier died at Russia’s leading military hospital after receiving a fatal wound in Syria when a military convoy came under fire last month. His death was Russia’s eighth casualty in Syria officially confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Junior Sergeant Mikhail Shirokopoyas died at the Burdenko Main Military Clinical Hospital in Moscow on June 7, the Russian military announced in a statement. The soldier died from an abdominal wound inflicted by a shell fragment when a “convoy from the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation” was shelled by terrorists in Aleppo province in the first half of May.

The sergeant was immediately evacuated to Moscow’s central military medical facility. For three weeks, “the best medics at Burdenko Hospital did everything within their competence to save his life, but the wound proved to be fatal.”

Mikhail Shirokopoyas was buried with honors in his native settlement in the Amur region of Russia’s Far East, the Ministry of Defense said.

He left behind a wife and a 13-year-old daughter.

The Russian Air Force launched a counter-terrorist operation in Syria on September 30, 2015 that officially continued until February 27, when the reconciliation process in Syria began with the introduction of a ceasefire.

A joint campaign carried out by the Russian Air Force and Syrian Army resulted in the elimination of 28,000 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front fighters, amounting to about a third of IS’ forces, according to an estimate provided by Evgeny Lukyanov, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council.

As of mid-March 2016, the Russian Air Force had launched over 9,000 sorties against terrorist targets in Syria.

The first Russian casualty in Syria was reported in late October, when the Defense Ministry announced that serviceman Vadim Kostenko had committed suicide.

Oleg Peshkov, a military pilot, died in Syria on November 24, 2014 when he was shot by Turkmen fighters after ejecting from a Su-24 bomber shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet for allegedly violating airspace.

Aleksandr Pozynich, a marine, was killed the same day near the Turkish-Syrian border while on a search and rescue operation aimed at retrieving Peshkov’s co-pilot.

Ivan Cheremisin, who was killed in IS mortar fire, and Fedor Zhuravlev, who also died in action, were both honored at a ceremony in the Kremlin in March.

In late March, Aleksandr Prokhorenko, a Russian special operations forces [SOF] officer dubbed the “Russian Rambo” by international media, died a hero’s death when he called an airstrike in on himself while surrounded by Islamic State militants during a battle near Palmyra.

In early May 2015, Anton Erygin fell under militant fire while guarding a Russian Center for Reconciliation convoy in Homs province. Doctors fought to save his life for two days, but the soldier’s wounds were too heavy.