A deadly clash occurred between U.S. and Russian-backed forces, leaving over 100 Russian mercenaries dead in Syria.
“More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region,” two Russians told Bloomberg.
“The U.S. official put the death toll in the fighting at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured, but was unable to say how many were Russians.”
It happened just last week and there’s speculation that it was a rogue operation. According to Colonel Thomas F. Veale, a spokesman for the U.S. military, forces loyal to the Syrian leader made their advance in a “battalion-sized formation supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars” and fired rounds at the base.
“Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted, unprovoked attack,” Veale said.
He also added that “enemy vehicles and personnel who turned around and headed back west were not targeted.”
No deaths on our side were reported.
As reported by Bloomberg:
The Russian 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. Russia’s military said it had nothing to do with the attack and the U.S. accepted the claim. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the whole thing “perplexing,” but provided no further details.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on reports of Russian casualties, saying the Kremlin only tracks data on the country’s armed forces. Putin talked with U.S. President Donald Trump by phone Monday, but the military action in Syria wasn’t discussed, he said.
“This is a big scandal and a reason for an acute international crisis,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and lawmaker who’s now an independent political analyst. “But Russia will pretend nothing happened.”