4 Russian military personnel and dozens of rebel fighters have been killed during a battle in eastern Syria’s Deir Az Zor province.

Fighting erupted after several armed groups attacked an artillery battery belonging to Syrian government forces, Russian news agencies reported on Sunday, citing a defence ministry statement.

Two Russian military advisers who directed fire from the Syrian battery were killed on the spot. Five other personnel were wounded and taken to a Russian-run military hospital, where two later died from their wounds.

According to the defense ministry statement, cited by AFP news agency, 92 Russian soldiers have been killed in Syria since Russia entered the country’s ongoing war in September 2015.

Forty-three rebels were also killed during the battle, the ministry said, adding that “several mobile terrorist groups attacked Syrian government artillery at night”. The statement did not make clear when the fighting, which lasted for about one hour, took place.

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