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A coalition air strike in Syria. Photo: Delil Souleiman / AFP via Getty Images

American forces in Syria killed at least 100 Russian mercenaries fighting for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad after they launched a failed — and perhaps rogue — attack on a base and oil refinery held by U.S.-led troops, Bloomberg reports, citing a U.S. official and three Russian sources. The U.S. military accepted Russia's claim that it had nothing to do with the attack.

Why it matters: It may have been "the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War," per Bloomberg.

  • The number of deaths from the attack is already close to five times more the official Russian death toll in Syria since 2015. And it's still rising, per a Russian commander.
  • Russian sources told Bloomberg more than 200 mercenaries were killed, while a U.S. official said 100 died and another 200 to 300 were injured.
  • The mercenaries involved reportedly belonged to Wagner, the Russian counterpart to American private security force Academi — once known as Blackwater.
  • “Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted, unprovoked attack ... Russian officials assured coalition officials they would not engage coalition forces in the vicinity," said U.S. Colonel Thomas F. Veale, a military spokesman, in a statement.

Go deeper

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 1 hour ago - World

Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Wang Zhao - Pool/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that a "new cold war" could turn hot, and must be avoided, in a speech on Monday at World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Agenda” conference.

Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.