Head of Cossack army regiment says Russians have fought in Syria since 2013
Russian army Cossacks have been involved in the war in Syria fighting for the Syrian government since 2013. This was stated by the Ataman (leader) of the Taman division of the Kuban military Cossacks, Ivan Bezugly, in a Youtube video posted by Georgi Kotyonok.
In 2013, the Taman Cossack Division joined armed operations against “militants,” says Bezugly. “We understood it was necessary that the infection did not spread,” the Ataman said. He then spoke of an 18-hour battle in which his Cossacks were victorious to serve as proof of his division's success in the conflict.
The Ataman also spoke of a Russian Cossack, Sergei Morozov, who was killed in action fighting in Syria. Morozov was killed in “the first battle for the city of Aleppo” in which Russian Cossacks fought against “Turkish special forces,” said the Ataman.
Curiously, Sergei Morozov seems to reappear and get wounded or killed at different times in various Russian “covert” conflicts. For example, news agency Segodnya.Ru reports that Morozov was killed during a recent battle for Palmyra, which is part of the Homs region in Syria. Segodnya.Ru goes on to say that Morozov had also “participated in the 2014 defence of the Crimean peninsula from Bandera [Ukrainian nationalist] extremists”—after his apparent death in Syria. Morozov was then supposedly sent to fight in Ukraine's Donbas region, where he was wounded twice. Kuban news website VK Press reports that Morozov fought in Syria “as a volunteer on contract.”
Russia officially launched military operations in Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of the Syrian government. Russia's participation in the Syrian conflict was officially to aid the Syrian government in fighting against jihadi extremists and ISIS. Syrian opposition groups and Western observers have repeatedly accused Russia of bombing Syrian rebel positions and of mass civilian deaths.
On March 15, Vladimir Putin announced the withdrawal of Russia's main fighting force from Syria. The Russian Airforce's Mixed Air-Group has remained at Hmyeimim Airbase to provide Syrian government forces with air support.