Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Debka Files on Russian advisers killed in last week’s clash with US forces in Syria

This is coverage from Israel's Debka Files

Up to 200 Russian advisers killed in last week’s clash with US forces in Syria

9 February, 2018

In the first military clash between US and Russian forces in Syria, more than 200 Russian “mercenaries” are reported killed, scores more injured. US military sources first  reported that 100 Russian “advisers” were killed and dozens injured in a US attack on Syrian and allied pro-Iranian forces on Feb. 8. By  Tuesday, Feb. 13, those figures had doubled. Moscow has not confirmed the incident or the casualties, which would be five times more than Russian official losses since it entered the war in 2015. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment, saying the Kremlin only tracks data on the country’s armed forces. According to one Russian officer, the death toll continues to rise after scores of Russian wounded were flown to hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

DEBKAfile’s military sources reported exclusively on Feb. 9 that US special forces had struck Russian military engineers laying a floating bridge on the Euphrates River near Deir ez-Zour for Syrian army, Hizballah and other pro-Iranian forces to cross to the east bank. That engagement unfolded when US forces posted in eastern Syria repelled a Syrian-pro-Iranian attack led by T-72 and T-55 tanks on a base held by American and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces east of the Euphrates River near the oil town of Tabiye.

The strike force was fighting under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers. It included members of the Afghan Shiite militia imported by Tehran, pro-Assad troops of the Syrian National Defense Forces, local Arab tribesmen and Russian mercenaries. Those mercenaries were provided by Wagner, a Russian private military contractor, which supplies ground forces to fight for Assad alongside the pro-Iranian and Russian combatants.

Against that fighting strength, the Americans used F-22 Raptors, F-15 Strike Eagles, Air Force AC-130 gunships, Marine artillery and Army Apache attack helicopters, as well as Special Operations forces, which stopped the multiple assault in its tracks.

An earlier report

More on US strike: Russians who laid Euphrates bridge among targets

9 February, 2018

US F-15 fighters, Apache helicopters, heavy artillery and special ops forces took part Thursday, Feb. 8 in the early morning attack against pro-Assad, Hizballah and Shiite forces who were crossing the Euphrates to eastern Syria. DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that the US special operations forces posted on the river’s east bank saw a Russian team of military engineers laying a floating bridge across the river 8km north of Deir ez-Zour. Around 500 Syrian commandos, Hizballah and Shiite militiamen, under Iranian command, were sighted about to make the crossing. US jets and helicopters went into action when the crossing began, destroying the bridge. US special operations waiting on the eastern bank wiped out the Syrian allied force as it landed, as well the the bridgehead they had started setting up. US-led coalition spokesmen estimated that up to 100 Syrian and Hizballah fighters lost their lives in the engagement, possibly including some Russians. There were no American casualties. Read the earlier DEBKAfile exclusive report on the two fronts opened up by US special operations forces in Syria.

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