The attack comes just days after us forces for several hours used drones and B-52 bombers against several hundred "pro-regime" fighters equipped with artillery and a tank in Deir el-Zour province, an area in eastern Syria where the last IS fighters have converged among oil fields.
"These actions are carried out without an invitation", Lavrov told a press conference, when asked to comment on the US Defense Department's alleged plans to allocate $550 million to fund Syrian opposition and create border security forces.
One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least two pro-Syrian government forces were killed. Alexander Averin, a spokesman for the nationalist party he was linked to, told Reuters Ananiev had been killed in shelling in the same fighting on Feb 7.
But he would not comment on whether Russian Federation has influence over the forces that did attack.
The proposition that the attempted assault was not cleared with Russia's "official" military is also supported by the Kremlin's muted reaction to the event.
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The U.S. Treasury named Dmitry Utkin as Wagner's leader last June as it sanctioned him for sending fighters to eastern Ukraine.
Harrigian said the attack by the pro-Assad forces was not a surprise since the USA and its partners had observed them engaged in a slow buildup the week before the attack.
Russian Federation has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government crucial support throughout the seven-year war in Syria, which began with a government crackdown on protests. For reasons that remain unclear, Syrian government troops and some Russian nationals appear to have attacked a coalition position, near Al Tabiyeh, Syria.
But analysts believe Russian Federation is using so-called private security firms to avoid deaths among its conscript army which could prove unpopular with its citizens - especially in the year of its presidential election.
What about the Russian mercenaries?.
United States officials added that the Russian government had lodged no complaint about its citizens being killed. "I advise you to contact the defence ministry".
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Some media reports suggest that dozens of Russian fighters could have been killed.
Wagner, which is under USA sanctions for supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, has several hundred contractors in Syria, according to analysts.
At no point, a USA military spokesman said, was there any chance of direct conflict between US and Russian ground forces.
There's a refinery in Deir Ezzor that once funded Islamic State operations that's now "crucial" to Assad's plans to finance the reconstruction of Syria once a peace deal is finally reached, according to Yury Barmin, a Middle East analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow.
The US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis played down the incident, saying: "This could just be a local couple of guys doing something".
Which isn't a great excuse because tanks are usually well-marked as to their owners/operators, and while both Russia and Syria are two of the top three extent operators of such tanks, there are massively different ramifications for the USA to have destroyed a Syrian tank of Russian origin or to have deliberately attacked and destroyed a Russian tank.
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Private contractors - why are they in Syria?