YELENOVSKOYE, Russia (Reuters) - The last contact Grigoriy Gancherov and his wife had with their son, a Russian private military contractor fighting in Syria, was on Feb. 4 last year.

The father subsequently learned from a friend and fellow fighter of Sergei's that the 25-year-old had died several days later in a major battle against U.S.-led forces in the Deir al-Zor region.

It was not until mid-April that he received formal notification of his son's death and the body was returned, accompanied by a death certificate stating he died on March 7 on the other side of Syria.

Gancherov's account is one of half a dozen instances Reuters has identified where the Kremlin-linked private military organization that recruited the fighters returned bodies more than seven weeks after the battle and with official documents bearing details that people who knew them say were incorrect.

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