A Russian general Wednesday denied reports he had been killed by rebels in Syria during an operation against President Bashar al-Assad’s top security men.
General Vladimir Kuzheyev told reporters at a hastily arranged press conference at the Russian defense ministry in Moscow that he was flattered by the attention and happy to report he was well.
“I thank the media for devoting such great attention to my humble persona,” Kuzheyev said in comments also posted on the defense ministry’s official website and replayed on state television.
“As a general, I understand that this information was not just a provocation aimed against me but also -- and most importantly -- against my country.”
A video released on YouTube by the armed opposition’s Damascus Area Military Command claimed the killing of a Russian advisor to the Syrian defense minister and identified him as General Vladimir Khodzhev.
The post showed a document with a photograph of a man resembling the Russian general who emerged in Moscow on Wednesday. It added that his local translator had also been died in the rebel attack.
“This proves the involvement of the Russians in the humanitarian crimes against our people and our nation,” the rebel commander said in the post.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) said the killing of the general, along his private translator, Ahmed Aiq, was evidence that Russia was embroiled in the “humanitarian crimes” against Syrians.
“We warn all the snakes to go back to their dens whether it is Russia, Iran and Iraq or Lebanon,” a FSA officer said in the video.
The rebel group said, the operation was conducted by its Ghota Western Brigades from Damascus along with FSA countryside forces.
The Syrian opposition accuses Russia of fomenting the violence in Syria by refusing to join calls on Assad to leave power and continuing to provide weapons to its Soviet-era ally
Russia, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have long opposed foreign intervention in Syria and the toppling Assad. Russia and China have blocked U.N. Security Council’s resolutions that seemed to be against Assad regime.