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Russian Medals Order Could Indicate Number Of Syria Troops

Servicemen welcome military personnel home from Syria at a base in southern Russia.
Servicemen welcome military personnel home from Syria at a base in southern Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry is seeking to have 10,300 medals manufactured for “participants in the military operation in Syria,” in what appears to be the closest official indication of the number of people who served in Russia’s six-month military incursion in Syria.

The ministry will pay almost 2 million rubles ($29,000) for the medals and 255,000 more ($3,800) for certificates. The order was published on the official public procurement website.

A manufacturer will be chosen by way of an electronic auction set to take place April 15. The medals are then to be made within seven business days.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu first signed a decree instituting the medal on November 30, 2015, two months after the Russian operation in Syria began.

The medal is a 32 millimeter circle whose front face bears images of three fighter jets and a missile ship with an outline of Syria in the background. The back face is inscribed with: “To a participant in the military operation in Syria” and “Russian Defense Ministry.”

According to the Russian news website, some medals already exist and can be easily bought on the Internet. Several different websites ask for 400 to 1,500 rubles ($6-22) for one.

Moscow began withdrawing most of its troops and equipment from Syria on March 15, after almost six months there. The campaign helped the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reclaim territories previously held by rebel groups.

Moscow announced that it would keep about 1,000 military personnel at its bases in Syria to secure them and to conduct reconnaissance missions.

More than 270,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011