Moscow may also be putting on a show of strength, signaling that it's not intimidated by the superior American fighters in the theater, or even sending a message that it has the option of escalating the next encounter between US and Russian planes. He added that the Russian businessman was shuttled in with private jet and wore civilian clothes and a military jacket.
He pointed out that the two meetings he had months ago showed "his intention to control the oil and gas fields in Syria and that he is fully ready to sign a contract for the operation of these fields". "And we were sure that the Russians were not involved", - said the press Secretary of the Pentagon.
The President thanked Russian servicemen who took part in the anti-terrorism operations in Syria, which "displayed heroism, staunchness and bravery".
Sources, however, have said that dozens of Russians were killed in the recent attack while supporting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The PMC "has recruited and sent soldiers to fight alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine", the US Treasury said.
Later it was reported about hundreds of victims from the forces of the regime that had been mainly the so-called Russian PMCs "Wagner". Then in 2013 he went to Syria with a group of fighters recruited by a company called "Slav Corps", the BBC reports.
The American military, which acknowledged in December that it has 2,000 troops in Syria in addition to air support of Kurdish-led fighters opposed to Assad, has been vague about what happened other than saying the strike was in "self-defense" against a pro-Assad attack.
Russian Federation has been accused of using Syria as a testing ground for new weaponry, including its Su-34 fighter jet which has since been sold to Algeria with many others such as Indonesia, India, Uganda and Nigeria expressing interest since the jet became active in the Middle-Eastern country. Its officers serving in Syria are reported to earn up to 300,000 roubles (3,800; $5,300) a month.
The mercenaries can be deployed in especially tough ground fighting alongside Syrian government troops. In 2015, the Russian government announced it would buy an initial batch of only 12 aircraft, with its entry into service expected only by 2019-20.
Their role has been compared to that of USA military contractors in Iraq, who were deployed on a large scale.