Visit ArabTopics.com

Hundreds of Russian Fighters Killed in US Airstrikes in Syria

Following up to last night’s bombshell report that at least two Russian mercenary fighters in Syria had been killed by U.S.-led coalition forces, this morning Bloomberg is out with an exclusive, according to which the body count is far greater than had been disclosed: U.S. forces reportedly killed “scores” of Russian contract soldiers in Syria last week “in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War” Bloomberg reported.

According to the unnamed U.S. and Russian sources, “more than 200 mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base and refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region” In terms of total body count, the U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured.

A few caveats: the Russian operation was not officially mandated, and the assault “may have been a rogue operation, underscoring the complexity of a conflict that started as a domestic crackdown only to morph into a proxy war involving Islamic extremists, stateless Kurds and regional powers Iran, Turkey and now Israel.”

In a bizarre deflection of responsibility, Russia’s military not only did not demand an explanation from the U.S. for the deaths, but said it had nothing to do with the attack and the U.S. military accepted the claim. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has called the whole thing “perplexing,” but provided no further details.

“Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted, unprovoked attack,” U.S. Colonel Thomas F. Veale, a military spokesman, said in a statement. “Russian officials assured coalition officials they would not engage coalition forces in the vicinity.”

The deadly fight began about 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of the Euphrates River de-confliction line late on Feb. 7, when adversaries fired rounds and advanced in a “battalion-sized dismounted formation supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars,” Veale said. No fatalities were reported on the coalition side and “enemy vehicles and personnel who turned around and headed back west were not targeted.”

Shortly after the attack, al-Masdar reported that the pro-government “ISIS Hunters” released an official statement on Sunday condemning the U.S. Coalition’s airstrikes that killed several members of the Syrian Armed Forces on February 7th.

The ISIS Hunters specifically condemned both the U.S. Coalition and the Kurdish forces that are currently in control of the majority of the northeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. There was, however, no mention that many of the fighters killed were Russian mercenaries.

Echoing the sentiment, the government in Damascus called the U.S. action “barbaric aggression” and a “war crime.”

In troubling news for Putin, however, the death toll from the incident, already about five times more than Russia’s official losses since it entered the war in 2015, is still rising, according to one mercenary commander. He said by phone on condition of anonymity that dozens of his wounded men are still being treated at military hospitals in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Many of the Russians killed or injured were veterans of the Ukraine conflict, according to Alexander Ionov, the head of a Kremlin-funded organization that fosters ties to separatists who’s fought alongside pro-Assad forces in Syria. It’s not clear who was paying the soldiers of fortune, whether it was Russia directly, its allies in the war, Syria and Iran, or a third party.

Bloomberg has also identified the mercenary outfit involved in the attack. According to reports in local media, Wagner – a shadowy organization often referred to as Russia’s answer to Blackwater, the U.S. military company now called Academi – was hired by Assad or his allies to guard Syrian energy facilities in exchange for oil concessions.

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.

In its statement about the attack, Russia’s Defense Ministry seemed to refer to the refinery, accusing the U.S. of using its “illegal presence” in Syria as an excuse to “seize economic assets” instead of fighting terrorists.

Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and lawmaker who’s now an independent political analyst in Moscow, said the clash marked the first such armed exchange between the two powers since the Vietnam War.

“This is a big scandal and a reason for an acute international crisis,” Frolov said. “But Russia will pretend nothing happened.”

Indeed, and as we noted last night, if and when the deaths are officially confirmed, it could turn into a political scandal for Putin, with the public demanding why the government is keeping military deaths under wraps. Already Grigory Yavlinsky, a veteran liberal politician who is running for president in elections next month, has called on Putin to disclose how many Russians had been killed in Syria and in what circumstances.

“If there was a large-scale loss of life of Russian citizens, the relevant officials, including the commander-in-chief of our armed forces (Putin), are obliged to tell the country about it and decide who carries responsibility for this,” Yavlinsky said in a statement released by his Yabloko party.

Of course, if indeed Russian soldiers were killed while fighting under covert circumstances – in the same way as killed U.S. “military advisors” are kept under seal – that is the last thing Moscow would like to publicize. Unless of course the political calculus shifts, and Putin decides that it is time for a full-blown military escalation, in which case the deaths will be used as the justification behind any armed conflict.

Top Photo | Russian soldiers walk outside a hospital in Deir el-Zor, Syria, Sept. 15, 2017. (AP Photo)

© Zerohedge.com

The post Hundreds of Russian Fighters Killed in US Airstrikes in Syria appeared first on MintPress News.

Source: 
MintPress

Dear friends of this aggregator

  • Yes, I intentionally removed Newsbud from the aggregator on Mar 22.
  • Newsbud did not block the aggregator, although their editor blocked me on twitter after a comment I made to her
  • As far as I know, the only site that blocks this aggregator is Global Research. I have no idea why!!
  • Please stop recommending Newsbud and Global Research to be added to the aggregator.

Support this site

News Sources

Source Items
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva 12
John Pilger 407
The Real News 367
Scrutinised Minds 27
Need To Know News 1378
FEE 2771
Marine Le Pen 208
Francois Asselineau 25
Opassande 53
HAX on 5July 220
Henrik Alexandersson 423
Mohamed Omar 216
Professors Blog 10
Arg Blatte Talar 37
Angry Foreigner 15
Fritte Fritzson 11
Teologiska rummet 32
Filosofiska rummet 64
Vetenskapsradion Historia 107
Snedtänkt (Kalle Lind) 167
Les Crises 1636
Richard Falk 100
Ian Sinclair 71
SpinWatch 50
Counter Currents 5423
Kafila 320
Gail Malone 31
Transnational Foundation 221
Rick Falkvinge 86
The Duran 6013
Vanessa Beeley 86
Nina Kouprianova 9
MintPress 4226
Paul Craig Roberts 988
News Junkie Post 43
Nomi Prins 21
Kurt Nimmo 191
Strategic Culture 2987
Sir Ken Robinson 16
Stephan Kinsella 58
Liberty Blitzkrieg 765
Sami Bedouin 61
Consortium News 2047
21 Century Wire 2721
Burning Blogger 267
Stephen Gowans 66
David D. Friedman 125
Anarchist Standard 16
The BRICS Post 1436
Tom Dispatch 376
Levant Report 17
The Saker 3153
The Barnes Review 458
John Friend 346
Psyche Truth 146
Jonathan Cook 135
New Eastern Outlook 2830
School Sucks Project 1722
Giza Death Star 1459
Andrew Gavin Marshall 15
Red Ice Radio 556
GMWatch 1655
Robert Faurisson 135
Espionage History Archive 34
Jay's Analysis 652
Le 4ème singe 86
Jacob Cohen 190
Agora Vox 9345
Cercle Des Volontaires 411
Panamza 1501
Fairewinds 103
Project Censored 676
Spy Culture 325
Conspiracy Archive 57
Crystal Clark 11
Timothy Kelly 462
PINAC 1482
The Conscious Resistance 481
Independent Science News 65
The Anti Media 5030
Positive News 820
Brandon Martinez 30
Steven Chovanec 61
Lionel 258
The Mind renewed 205
Natural Society 2391
Yanis Varoufakis 765
Tragedy & Hope 121
Dr. Tim Ball 60
Web of Debt 120
Porkins Policy Review 324
Conspiracy Watch 174
Eva Bartlett 543
Libyan War Truth 268
DeadLine Live 1895
Kevin Ryan 61
BSNEWS 1941
Aaron Franz 176
Traces of Reality 166
Revelations Radio News 118
Dr. Bruce Levine 102
Peter B Collins 1281
Faux Capitalism 205
Dissident Voice 9112
Climate Audit 219
Donna Laframboise 321
Judith Curry 1035
Geneva Business Insider 40
Media Monarchy 1855
Syria Report 70
Human Rights Investigation 90
Intifada (Voice of Palestine) 1685
Down With Tyranny 9566
Laura Wells Solutions 17
Video Rebel's Blog 404
Revisionist Review 485
Aletho News 17029
ضد العولمة 27
Penny for your thoughts 2556
Northerntruthseeker 1954
كساريات 37
Color Revolutions and Geopolitics 27
Stop Nato 4556
AntiWar.com Blog 2555
AntiWar.com Original Content 5863
Corbett Report 2008
Stop Imperialism 491
Land Destroyer 1077
Webster Tarpley Website 873

Compiled Feeds

Public Lists

Title Visibility
Funny Public