The latest reports of Russian casualties in the Syrian war serve to underline the international character of the conflict. It is understood that up to fifteen mercenaries or private security contractors from the Russian Federation were killed when a booby-trap device was triggered in a munitions warehouse close to the town of Tabiya Jazira, near the American-owned ConocoPhillips’ gas field in the north-eastern province of Deir ez-Zor. At the time, the men and their escorts from the al-Baqir Brigade, a militia serving with the pro-regime Local Defence Forces, were removing a number of weapons from the building when the blast killed a total of twenty-three people.
The deaths came as forces loyal to the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad continued their push towards the valuable oil and gas fields on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, a region controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a loose alliance of Arab and Kurdish paramilitaries backed by some Western nations.
On the 7th and 8th of February, dozens of Russian military contractors were reportedly killed during fighting between pro- and anti-regime groups in the oil fields near the city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, a populous conurbation besieged by the Islamic State until last November. Many of the combatants died in a series of airstrikes carried out by the United States Armed Forces. The majority of the these occurred during a failed, two day battalion-strength attack on a local base held by the SDF and US Special Forces, the attackers led by a significant contingent of advisers from the Russian Federation.
The recent clashes represent one of the few times Russian and American military forces have faced off against each other in open combat since the end of the Cold War, albeit mainly through proxy allies. It also illustrates how far Moscow has gone in cloning the same deniable technique of “private armies” employed by Washington over the last two decades. Though, arguably, this disreputable practice was pioneered by both countries during the Bosnian Civil War of 1992-95, a conflict with a more than passing resemblance to the current slaughter in Syria and its neighbours.
And would you say, Dmitri, that you’re a mercenary, a contractor, an advisor, a militiaman or a loyalist?
And yourself Hank, are you a rebel, an insurgent, a freedom-fighter, a terrorist, or a paramilitary?
Murky stuff. The terminology alone would give you doubts.
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Indeed. The Russians have their “private security contractors” in Syria and the Americans have their “private security contractors” in Iraq (and increasingly in much of sub-Saharan Africa, it should be noted)..
Of course, the Russians also have their, erm, “biker gang” in Serbia and Bosnia which is another way of doing it!
Me thinks it’s a case of the US huffing that their plan for Syria hasn’t worked and have pathetically lashed out like a spoilt brat. They are losing yet again and not only that their crook in arms erdogan is increasingly reaching out to the winning side……and the right side I may add.
The incident near Deir ez-Zor, when the Russians suffered pretty hefty losses by all accounts, seems to have been a deliberate attempt by the former to overawe the Americans. They thought the Yank commandos would be withdrawn, embarrassing the US in front of its Kurdish/Arab allies, and undermining US support for the anti-regime forces. Instead a few lobbed tank shells caused the Americans to go DefCon 1 on their asses.
Remember, Trump has delegated considerable authority to the Pentagon and local in-theatre commanders on these matters. Much more so than Obama. The Pentagon is in the driving seat of the Syrian operations more so than the White House. If for no other reason, the WH can’t be bothered to pay too much close attention to the Syrian quagmire (because Trump and associates can’t make head or tale of it?).
I doubt very much the Russians were attempting to overawe the U.S. In fact I would doubt anything the US claims concerning Syria. Lest we forget a year ago US attacked the Syrian army by air whilst almost simultaneously al nusra/ISIS or whatever name they regularly change, attacked the same troops on the ground I.e the yanks are in cahoots with all opposition gunmen who oppose Assad.
Fact is the West plan in Syria has been halted. Turkey who were originally part of the West plan know this as well and are now making moves to protect their own asses and interests in the region. The US plan B of seizing a part of syria(partition) and allowing the YPG to run it on their behalf was most certainly not part of erdogan’s plan hence their animosity towards the US.
P.s the only thing to get the West plan back on course is for Assad to carry out some sort of mass chemical attack on his own people which would allow the dogs of war in NATO/EU to unleash some freedom bombing that Assad and his troops couldn’t withstand. Assad wouldn’t be that stupid but I know there are people that are so stupid to believe he would do it.
Just out of interest An sionnach, what is your view on the ‘brave’ White Helmets? Remembering of course our own history here in Ireland, do you not find it strange a ‘former’ Brit army Intel officer founded this outfit? Do you believe they are a bona fide life saving, impartial rescue outfit or do you believe they are a front? I kind of ‘soft power’ outfit designed to help destabalise Syria? Just wondering.
It always amazes me how adept the Meiricans are at killing but not at ever finishing it. In the long run, the Russians will get their way, as always. Wolfe Tone has it right….
Well the Russian Federation has secured eastern Mediterranean military/trade/refinery ports in Syria because of its intervention on the side of Assad, so that’s a huge win for Moscow. Plus lots of lovely oil and gas contracts. Then there will be the post-conflict deals to rebuild and rearm the country, paid in petro-dollars, which the Russians are already working on. Add to that, the international buyers lining up to grab Russian equipment after seeing it in action against the US and European equivalents, plus political, diplomatic etc influence in the Middle East, and well, Putin has played a blinder to be honest.