Обзор текущих военных операций в мире и вооруженных конфликтов

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Russian mercenaries are increasingly fighting and dying in Syria

 A portrait of Russian contractor Maxim Kolganov, who was killed in combat in Syria, is pictured on a grave in his hometown of Togliatti, Russia, September 29, 2016.

TOGLIATTI, Russia (Reuters) - The start of this year proved deadly for one unit of about 100 Russian fighters supporting President Bashar al-Assad's troops in northern Syria.

On Feb. 3, 38-year-old Maxim Kolganov was killed in a firefight with rebels near Aleppo when a bullet pierced his body armor and heart. Then, on March 9, the same unit came under shell-fire near Palmyra, and Sergei Morozov, also 38, was hit and died on the way to hospital. 

Back in southern Russia, medals were delivered to their families: the order of bravery, with certificates signed by President Vladimir Putin. The medals, seen by Reuters, were intended to honor the sacrifice they had made for their country.

Except Kolganov and Morozov were not employed by the Russian state. They were in Syria as private contractors, a small part of an army of such people who are being deployed secretly by the Kremlin in Syria.

Iraqi forces are ready to push into the streets of Mosul

 A tank of Iraqi security forces is seen during a battle with Islamic State militants in southeast of Mosul, Iraq, November 3, 2016.

Gogjali (Iraq) (AFP) - Elite Iraqi forces backed by artillery and air strikes pushed towards the streets of Mosul on Friday, battling die-hard jihadists defending the city where their "caliphate" was born.

At dawn, fighters from the Counter-Terrorism Service bristling with ammunition checked their weaponry and left Gogjali, the last village on the eastern outskirts of Mosul. 

Moments later, they were at a cemetery on the edge of the city controlled by the Islamic State group, and Iraqi forces were pounding the nearby Al-Karama neighbourhood with tank shells and gunfire.

Plumes of smoke billowed into the sky from tyres set alight by the jihadists in an attempt to provide cover from air strikes.

Russia has threatened to include Norway on a list of possible nuclear targets

A senior member of Russia’s defense and security committee told Russian TV that Norway has been added to the list of potential targets for a nuclear strike after Norway agreed to host 330 U.S. Marines for a rotational training deployment.