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Armenian Sapper In Syria Seriously Wounded While Clearing Mines

An Armenian demining officer recently deployed to Syria has been seriously wounded while clearing landmines near Aleppo.

According to Armenia's Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise (CHDE), the sapper hit an improvised explosive device and was rushed to hospital on March 7.

"According to our information, his right foot was amputated," Nazeli Elbakian, a spokeswoman for the center overseen by the Armenian Defense Ministry, told RFE/RL's Armenian service on March 8.

Elbakian said the officer's condition was stable and he will return to Armenia soon.

The officer was among 83 Armenian army medics, sappers and other servicemen who were sent to Syria on February 8 in what the Armenian military described as a humanitarian mission coordinated with Russia

The United States, which has been highly critical of the Russian military presence in Syria, criticized the Armenian deployment on February 13.

"We do not support any engagement with Syrian military forces, whether that engagement is to provide assistance to civilians or is military in nature," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "Nor do we support any cooperation between Armenia and Russia for this mission."

Armenian officials downplayed the criticism, saying that U.S.-Armenian relations would not deteriorate because of it.

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