A Russian major-general was killed and two troops were injured in Syria Tuesday after vehicles they were traveling in were hit by an improvised explosive device (IED), the Russian Ministry of Defence has announced.
The blast was said to have taken place near the At-Taim oil field, about 15 km outside the city of Deir ez-Zor, with the Russian convoy said to have been hit while returning from a humanitarian action.
"As a result of the explosion, three Russian servicemen were injured. During evacuation and while receiving medical assistant, a senior Russian military advisor with the rank of major-general died from the serious injuries sustained," the MoD said.
The military said the IED involved was placed on the side of the road along which the Russian convoy was traveling.
The family of the senior officer will receive all possible assistance and support, according to the MoD, with the major-general to be awarded posthumously for his service.
The Russian ground contingent in Syria consists of Military Police forces, whose mission includes separating Turkish and Syrian forces in the country's north, assisting in humanitarian aid deliveries, and occasionally, helping Syrian Army forces destroy terrorist remnants.
This includes forces operating in Deir ez-Zor province. On Saturday, Russian forces deployed a mobile water treatment plant in Deir ez-Zor city. On August 6, the Russian military reported "an aggravation of the situation in the areas of the province of Deir ez-Zor" outside the control of the Syrian government owing to poor conditions in US-occupied areas of the province.
On Monday, Syrian and US forces engaged in a skirmish in neighbouring Hasakah province, with the incident leaving one Syrian soldier dead and two others injured.
Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor contain the vast majority of Syria's energy resources, which the Syrian government considers vital for its efforts to rebuild the country. In addition to Syrian Army and Russian forces (which are deployed in accordance with international law), US troops and Turkish-backed militias also operate in the area, as do the remnants of Daesh (ISIS)* and other terrorist groups, with the concentration of these forces in close proximity leading to regular confrontations, some of them violent.
Over 120 Russian servicemen have been killed in operations in Syria since Russia began its anti-terrorist operation in the country in September 2015.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.