Russia needs law on private contractors, lawmaker says

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the troops at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria. S

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the troops at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria. S

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, watches the troops marching as he and Syrian Presi

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, watches the troops marching as he and Syrian Presi

Ruslan Leviev, the founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team, or CIT, an investigative group analyzing Russian casualties in Syria, speaks to The Asso

Ruslan Leviev, the founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team, or CIT, an investigative group analyzing Russian casualties in Syria, speaks to The Asso

MOSCOW (AP) — A senior lawmaker says the Russian parliament is working on a bill to regulate private military companies, amid reports about an unknown number of Russian military contractors killed in a U.S. strike in Syria.

Retired Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, head of the defense committee in the lower house of Russia's parliament, said Wednesday in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that the state needs to oversee private military contractors.

Russian media said Russian private contractors were part of pro-government forces that advanced on oil fields in the eastern Deir el-Zour province and were targeted by the United States on Feb. 7. Associates and activists have confirmed the death of at least four Russian citizens there.

Russian and U.S. officials said they had no information on Russian casualties.