After Deir ez-Zor battle: Only American determination will deter the Russians in Syria

• By Alex Grinberg •  Feb 28, 2018 

While Israel was involved in an incident three weeks ago in which an UAV penetrated the territory of the State of Israel, and later an Israeli air force plane was downed, a day earlier, a no less significant incident occurred that could affect the future of the entire Middle East.

This article was originally published in English at the website Mida, click here to read it

On the night of February 8, American forces identified the movement of units of the Assad army towards the Deir al-Zour area, which is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces - a body composed of Arabs and Kurds and supported by the United States. 

 

The area in question is located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, and includes a number of oil and gas fields that the regime forces apparently desired.

The Syrian soldiers, together with what turned out to be a number of Russian units, moved in a clear offensive order, including artillery and tanks. 

Video released by the US of a T-72 targeted in Syria (screenshot)

In November, Russian engineering units had built a bridge over the Euphrates in the same area. When the incident was reported it did not attract attention, but in retrospect it may have been part of the preparations for the attack. 

 

US commanders contacted the Russians and informed them of the progress of the forces supporting the Assad regime, contrary to their agreement. The Russians replied that there were no Russian soldiers there.

 

After the force failed to cease movement forward, the battle began - or rather the massacre. Fighters and combat helicopters, and precision artillery simply crushed the advancing force.

 

The US Air Force even employed one of its most powerful aircraft: the AC-130 assault aircraft , armed with long-range cannons and equipped with the best electronic warfare systems. 

What follows is excerpts from the original article.

Disrespect for the Americans

 

The overwhelming American victory also proved once more the technical superiority of the US military, equipped with the best technological devices and capable of managing without difficulty a night engagement.  Arrogance and disrespect for American power were fatal for the Russian forces in the simplest sense of the word, and the number of casualties further adds to the humiliation.

 

Silence Speaks volumes

The most puzzling thing about this story, which has received much attention in the media, is the thunderous silence of both the Russians and the Americans. 

 

The Russian government launched a campaign to divert public attention from what had happened. Officially, the media is not forbidden to deal with this issue, but with the exception of the Foreign Ministry's announcement of the deaths of five citizens, the Russian authorities were silent.

 

In the absence of documents and official documents it will be very difficult to determine with certainty the identity of the fallen Russians in Syria, and the information currently available is based mainly on reports and rumors. The vast majority of the reports indicate that the force that was taken was not a force of the regular Russian army but part of a private military company called Wagner.

 

This creates another problem for Russians because Russian law - unlike the American - does not recognize the existence of private military companies. As a result, all the wounded who were rescued from the inferno in Syria were hospitalized in military hospitals, but secretly because Russian doctors are obliged to report to the authorities in every case of hospitalization of casualties from firearms.

 

The second version, which does not necessarily contradict the former, states that these mercenaries operated under the command of oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is close to Putin and apparently has business interests in Syria related to the same oil field in Deir al-Zour. 

 

All these present a frightening picture: since private military companies have no legal status, the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian army disclaim any responsibility for what is being committed in the field.  The Russian army has quite clear goals, such as preserving Assad's survival and maintaining Syria's division into spheres of influence, but Russia has no desire to keep Assad's wish to recapture all of Syria – which it regards as impossible.

 

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