Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov paid a recent visit to Syria where he met with military officials to discuss several files, including the Russian Wagner mercenaries deployed in the war-torn country, revealed the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Yevkurov advised Syrian officials of the need to inform Wagner militants to withdraw from Syria or join Russian troops deployed there, it added.
Syrian Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas met with Wagner leaderships in Syria and proposed that they lay down their arms and pull out of Syria within a month, or join the Russian troops there and work under their command.
The Observatory had revealed in June that the Russian forces had given the Wagner mercenaries the choice between leaving Syria or joining the Russian military, amid fears that the militants could mutiny against the Russian troops and Damascus regime.
Over 2,000 Wagner mercenaries are deployed in Syria. They mainly hail from countries of the former Soviet Union. They are mainly deployed at oil fields in the Syrian Badia, or desert, and in regions held by Turkish forces.
Over 3,000 Syrians are employed by Wagner inside and outside Syria, according to the Observatory.
Wagner has played a pivotal role in tipping the Syrian war in the regime’s favor. The mercenaries carried out military operations in Syria that were supervised by the Russian military.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state after a deadly plane crash believed to have killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, the volatile chief of the mercenary group.
Putin signed the decree bringing in the change with immediate effect on Friday.