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20151027
Russia's Ministry of Defense has confirmed the first casualty in Syria since Russia launched airstrikes four weeks ago, claiming that a serviceman committed suicide during a rest period while stationed there.

Russian government-owned news outlet Sputnik News reported that the serviceman worked at the Hmeimim airbase as a technical expert, and that an argument with his girlfriend may have spurred the suicide.

Reuters later confirmed through his family that the serviceman was Vadim Kostenko, who was 19and deployed to Syria on September 14. Vadim's battalion commander visited the family in person and told them Vadim hung himself on Saturday, October 24.

But Kostenko's family does not believe the military's version of the events, saying Vadim had seemed happy just days earlier, according to Reuters.

"We were told he had hanged himself because of a girl. He would never have done it. I know my son really well," Alexander Kostenko, Vadim's father, told Reuters.

"I will never believe this version (suicide)," Svetlana, Vadim's mother, told Reuters. "We spoke every day by phone for half an hour. (On Saturday) he was cheerful, happy, and he laughed," she said....................

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