Russia denies intelligence officer beheaded by IS in Syria

Russia denies intelligence officer beheaded by IS in Syria

The Russian Defence Ministry on Tuesday denied claims by Islamic State that it had beheaded a Russian intelligence officer who was captured in Syria while spying on the extremist group.

The ministry said all Russian forces in Syria “are safe and sound and are accomplishing missions to fight international terrorism”.

The jihadist group claimed in a video that it had executed Col. Evgeny Petrenko in Syria.

The video showed Petrenko speaking in Russian with Arabic subtitles, saying that his mission was to infiltrate the ranks of the Islamic State and particularly the group of Omar al-Shishani when he was captured.

The radical Islamist group announced in July 2016 that al-Shishani, a prominent Islamic State commander and a red-bearded ethnic Chechen, was killed during fighting in the Iraqi city of al-Shirqat, north of Baghdad.

The 12-minute video showed the man kneeling in a desert area, wearing a black suit and calling on Russian agents in Syria to surrender, sometimes speaking directly to the camera.

“You have to know that our government sends your sons to the war which it lost,” he said, addressing Russians.

“Stop them (your sons) before it is over and before their coffins or their condolence papers arrive,” he added while kneeling.

A narrator speaking in Russian claimed that Petrenko was a Russian agent before a bearded man beheaded the victim with a knife.

The narrator said other “Russian spies” had been executed as well, but no details were given.

The authenticity of the video and the identity of the man could not be confirmed.

It was also not clear when the execution took place.

Russia, a key military backer of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, started carrying out strikes in Syria in September 2015.

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