Russia searching for IDF soldiers’ remains in Syria, report says

Local media said Russian forces have also brought a specialized medical truck, replete with DNA testing tools, to the site.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Russian troops in Syria are attempting to locate the remains of two IDF soldiers killed in battle nearly four decades ago, reported Channel 12 News on Sunday.

The Yarmouk refugee camp, near Damascus, was once home to the largest Palestinian community within the Levantine state. The camp’s cemetery has reportedly been declared a closed military zone by Russian troops, who are excavating the grounds.

Local media said Russian forces have also brought a specialized medical truck, replete with DNA testing tools, to the site.

The body of IDF soldier Zachary Baumel, who was killed in the 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub during the First Lebanon War, was recovered from the camp’s cemetery and repatriated to Israel in 2019.

Baumel’s body was recovered with the assistance of Russia. He was laid to rest in a ceremony at the IDF military cemetery on Mount Herzl, where he was eulogized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In his remarks at the funeral, Netanyahu praised Russian president Vladimir Putin for Russia’s help in locating Baumel’s body.

“When I asked [Putin] to help us bring our boys home, he immediately instructed his people to begin,” Netanyahu said.

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It’s thought that two other IDF soldiers who fought in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, may also be buried at the Yarmouk refugee camp cemetery. The IDF officially lists Feldman and Katz as missing in action.

The Battle of Sultan Yacoub took place near the village of Sultan Yacoub in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, on the Syrian border. Thirty Israeli soldiers were killed, with two others held hostage.

One kidnapped soldier, Ariel Liberman, was returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange in 1984. The terms of the deal were not made public.

Another kidnapped soldier, Hezi Shai, was freed after Israel released 1,150 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in 1985.