Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

The Deir Ezzor Turkey Shoot (2)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Earlier today I pondered precedents and case studies for Putin’s debacle at  Deir Ezzor.

  1. Tsushima? The Russian fleet was flying Russian Naval Ensigns when sunk, so it does not fit.
  2. Kozhedub’s 324th IAP false flag fighter force in MiG Alley taking losses? Too successful (too many Beserkergang Ukrainians in the 324th IAP?).
  3. Soviet Voyska PVO and Warsaw Pact “instructors” operating SA-2 GUIDELINE batteries, FISHBEDs and FARMERs in North Vietnam? Not annihilated quite as completely.
  4. Soviet Voyska PVO 18th Special Air Defence Missile Battalion and the 135th IAP in Egypt 1969? Also not annihilated quite as completely.
  5. Annihilation of numerous Russian assaults in Donbass by Ukrainian tube and rocket artillery, and air strikes? Very close, but ignored by the omniscient Western mainstream media so they evidently never happened

Other peoples’ FUBARs? The  Bay of Pigs comes close, but not quite, as the invasion force was made up of Cuban emigres, not recently “retired” US Army and Marine Corps regulars.

In Russia, Yevgeny Ikhlov says many are making comparisons to Tsushima, but he considers the Bay of Pigs to be the best fit.

Overall, the story has produced more media traffic overnight, than in all previous days.

A question being asked by many Russians is why the much vaunted FLANKER fighter force, and S-400 / SA-21 long range SAMs did not attempt to drive away the US air assets? Deniability is the answer. If the Hmeimim Su-35S FLANKERs were scrambled to intercept the USAF F-15E, B-52H and AC-130 strike assets, Putin could not deny a brazen attempt to overrun a US held position, and moreover, this would result in the F-22A top cover being issued a weapons free directive, and burning Su-35S FLANKERs spiralling out of the sky on the six o’clock news would also not be deniable.

Curiously, the Putin regime is reported to be paying generous compensation to widows and families, likely in exchange for non-disclosure agreements.

Putin now has to confront a very basic dilemma – his proxy forces can and will be annihilated if he wishes to maintain deniability, as protecting them with air power and air defence assets destroys the deniability ruse, as happened when the Russians killed 298 civilians on MH17.

Deniability now provides anybody with an opportunity to take out a Russian force element, opportunity permitting.


Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Mercenary Debacle in Syria is Putin’s ‘Bay of Pigs,’ Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, February 14 – Some are now comparing the deaths of Moscow’s mercenaries in Syria with the 1905 Battle of Tsushima Straits in which Russia suffered one of its most serious naval losses ever, an event that pointed to its defeat by Japan, commentator Yevgeny Ikhlov says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A834389125CB). But the real parallel to the loss of Russian lives in Syria is with the Bay of Pigs fiasco Washington suffered in Cuba in 1961 when the American authorities failed to support their anti-Castro Cuban clients as promised. As a result, the latter were easily defeated; and that defeat echoed through American society and the halls of government as a result. The same thing, Ikhlov suggests, is about to happen in Russia even though the Kremlin continues to deny the obvious and to cast doubt on reports about the deaths of people that it is quite obvious the Kremlin sent into battle and now wants to be able to deny any responsibility for. There are at least three reasons why the Putin regime not only will not be able to get away with such disinformation this time but also will fail to be able to prevent this disaster from having consequences far larger in Moscow than anyone is currently anticipating. First, there are just too many reports about family members who have lost a relative in these attacks in the media. The Kremlin may be able to muddy the waters by challenging specific numbers, but it can’t hope to silence all those who have lost a loved one (e.g, znak.com/2018-02-13/intervyu_s_suprugoy_pogibshego_v_sirii_uralskogo_boyca_chvk_vagnera). Second, there are simply too many people who know about the Russian mercenary group involved, it has had too high a profile in the past, including meetings with Putin himself, and they are starting to talk as well. Their stories are also circulating and attracting ever more attention (e.g.,nakanune.ru/articles/113700/). And third, the Russian government has guaranteed that such stories will increase not decrease in number in the coming weeks by pursuing the legalization of mercenary groups in the Duma. Such groups are illegal at present, but the Duma now wants to pass a low bringing them into the legal field (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/01/moscow-preparing-to-replace-its-forces.html and rusmonitor.com/v-rossii-legalizuyut-chvk.html). All of that will ensure that talk about these events will continue, whatever Peshkov and Putin say, and that in turn will make it likely that ever more Russians will conclude as Rosbalt’s Sergey Shelin already has, that this event like others recently shows that those running Russia at home and abroad are “incompetent” at best (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/02/13/1682032.html). Putin may try to escape from this situation by launching a major purge of others who bear responsibility for the loss of Russian lives in Syria or by ramping up the conflict with the United States whose forces killed them. But his fingerprints are all over Moscow’s policy of using mercenaries – and it is going to be very hard for him not to lose more than face as a result.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Didn’t Expect US Attack on His Mercenaries in Syria and Now Faces a Challenge from the Right, Oreshkin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, February 12 – Vladimir Putin did not expect American forces to attack Russian mercenaries in Syria, killing at least a 100 and wounding even more, Dmitry Oreshkin says, because he views the West as fundamentally “cowardly” and afraid to respond to Russian actions both open and “hybrid.” Consequently, for the Russian leader, this American action represents “a paradigm shift,” and what is worse, it is something he cannot easily respond to because he insists the mercenaries are not Russian forces (apostrophe.ua/article/world/middle-east/2018-02-12/putin-poluchil-udar-i-popal-v-neznakomuyu-situatsiyu-chto-znachit-razgrom-naemnikov-rf-v-sirii/16924). That is already costing him support not only among many Russian enthusiasts for the use of force such as Igor Girkin (Strelkov) the former head of the DNR, who is accusing Putin of “weakness and cowardice” but also among broader strata of the population who know Russians have been killed and aren’t comfortable with the lack of a response. That could create the basis of a challenge to Putin from “patriotic” Russians in general and the siloviki in particular, Oreshkin argues; and consequently, the Kremlin leader is likely going to try to have a find a way to look stronger lest the possibility of such a threat grow into a reality. What is almost certainly unlikely is that the Kremlin leader will conclude that he has been playing an overly dangerous game with mercenaries, despite their apparent deniability as far as most people are concerned, and decide to pull back before this situation grows into something more serious both at home and abroad.

RUSSIAN STATE SECRET. Americans may have killed 644 Russian mercenaries in Syria AUDIO – Kavkazcenter.com

11 February at 01:48 This is all that remains of the Russian column of the Wagner gang in Deir Zor after the American bombing In Syria, the number of killed members of the Russian gang of Wagner reached more than 200 people. This was reported by attorney Mark Feigin on his Twitter page. “A person communicating with people from Wagner reported that the number of contracted PMC contract soldiers in the Euphrates Valley in Syria reached 215 people. We approached the Kurdish fortified area, deployed artillery, gave a volley and then they were plastered by the Americans, “he said. Meanwhile, according to other sources, in the column of the Russian grouping, which tried to attack the Kurdish Communists in order to repel their oil fields, there were more than 600 Russian soldiers and all of them, with the exception of a few dozen, were killed or seriously injured. Recall that earlier Ukrainian intelligence found that the entire Wagner gang has about 5 thousand people. The training base of this group is located in the Krasnodar Territory. According to some sources, the former chef of Putin Prigozhin, who also heads the factory of the KGB trolls, is covering the gang. The network published a record of possible witnesses of the defeat of the Wagner gang in Syria. in the zone of strikes inflicted by the United States. Audio recordings appeared on the Necro Mancer page on Twitter. “Three testimonies about the death of the column. Reliability of sources can not be estimated, “- is written in the commentary to the entry, which says that Russian mercenaries had no chance. “There, the 177 killed are only the 5th company. “Second” almost did not catch, the “Fifth” all killed. They were waxed by aircraft, “choppers”, artillery, there the Kurds attacked them with the Americans. The boys just did not have a chance, “the record says. In addition, the alleged witness reports that 1 tank and 1 BRDM survived from the equipment, and all the others were destroyed in the first minutes of the battle. Also, information is confirmed that the Russians tried to “squeeze out the oil plant” from Kurds and Americans. Attention, profanity, 18+ (Audio 1, Audio 2) One of the Russian war criminals, the former leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Iran, Girkin (aka Strelkov), said that perhaps the Americans destroyed 644 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner gang. “A lot of people are listed as missing …. It is also impossible to exclude the possibility of such losses, since the fighting continues and the bridgehead, which was seized on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and was controlled by the Wagnerites, is now virtually eliminated with the support of the US artillery and aviation. Perhaps, in addition to this column went to other units, “- wrote Girkin in the social network VKontakte.

Syria: information about the huge losses of Russian PMCs from the US airstrike in Syria

The Internet has published a transcript of conversations, from which it follows that units of the Russian private military company “Wagner” lost hundreds of people killed as a result of a “defensive” strike by the United States in Syria. Telegram- channel WarGonzo published a transcript of “evidence of the attack of Americans on ours in Syria.” “I’m not a psychologist, but judging by intonation, the talks are very truthful. Either ingenious actors, or not playing at all. I am familiar with this cohort and often communicate, this is the way such things are discussed, “the message says. On the record, “voice 1” reports that “in one company 200 people 200, in another – 10 people”, the third “also disheveled very much.” It is also reported that many “missing persons”. It is stated that “beat the Pindos, first covered with an arta”, then – “four turntables and into the merry-go-round were launched from large-caliber machine guns.” In this case, the soldiers of PMCs were armed only with automatic weapons, “not to mention there some kind of MANPADS and so on.” It is emphasized that the American side “clearly knew” that “the Russians were going to squeeze the plant”. “Voice 1” refers to what happened as “humiliation,” but with the injured party, they say, “as with devils.” He believes that the government will not take any response, “nothing, no one will do anything and nobody will destroy anyone.” “Voice 2” reports that 177 people were killed in the fifth company, the second one “practically did not catch”, and the fifth “was destroyed, they were rolled out there with aircraft, turntables, artillery and Kurds with Americans pounced on them, the boys simply had no chance” . Rota “almost everything has fallen down”. “Here are the remains of heavy, now” Tulip “will come at night today, then we will meet already. Come on, in touch. Victorovich, too, in my opinion, if ours, too, negative, “- said” voice 2 “. “Voice 3” says that “they lined up in the convoy, they did not reach these (up to positions) 300-700 meters”, “one platoon went ahead, and these, the column, stood.” “These American flag were raised and art began to rigidly *** (beat) on them,” said “voice 3”, adding that “then the turntables flew” and also started striking. According to “Votes 3”, 215 people were killed, “they simply rolled it out”. “Identify themselves … What were our hopes in general? ” – he said, noting that the soldiers of the PMC , “standing column”, fired artillery, “the infantry was not even nominated.” “Voice 4” reported that “one tank and one BRDM survived from the equipment, and all the other” bards “, all the other tanks were destroyed in the first minutes of the battle immediately.” In addition, Telegram-channel with reference to the source reports that “the artillery could not protect” because of the attack of American drones, which brought it out of action. “The guys almost did not have a chance – after shelling on the remains of the column went from helicopters. Air defense means were not even hand-held. Few survivors confirm that American flags were hanging over the enemy’s trenches, “the source said. On February 9, it was reported that the “defensive” US air strike in Syria was carried out by units of the Russian private military company, there are dead people among the fighters.

Сирия: информация об огромных потерях русских ЧВК под ударом США в Сирии – Новости РуАН

В интернете опубликована расшифровка разговоров, из которой следует, что подразделения российской частной военной компании «Вагнера» потеряли сотни человек убитыми в результате «оборонительного» удара США в Сирии. Telegram-канал WarGonzo опубликовал…

More than 640 Russian mercenary soldiers killed in Syria | Daily Mail Online

The Russian President is accused of covering-up his reliance on mercenary soldiers to minimise the extent of regular army casualties in Syria after a reported 644 were killed last month.

How many Russians died in the American raid in Syria? Meduza

The international coalition led by the United States on February 7 caused an air strike on the armed supporters of Bashar Assad near the Syrian city of Deir ez Zor. It is assumed that among them were Russian mercenaries who are fighting in Syria on the side of government forces. There is almost no reliable information on the number of deaths caused by the raid: Russian and world media produce very different estimates of the number of victims.

The Euphrates Massacre: 200 Russians Left Dead in Proxy Battle with US

Putin has twice declared ‘mission accomplished’ and announced Russian forces will be withdrawn from Syria.

Uproar in Moscow after Death of ‘Russian Mercenaries’ in US Airstrike in Syria | Asharq AL-awsat

Moscow – Raed Jabr A US counterattack in eastern Syria last week killed mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting alongside Syrian regime forces, according to leaked reports on Tuesday. Asharq Al-Awsat received telephone recordings made by survivors from the “massacre,” a term used by some to describe the attack. The recordings also offered details about the surprising attack and its repercussions. The survivors lashed out at the Russian authorities, “which ignored even mentioning the catastrophe, as if the victims were not human.” The leaks were first issued from Ukraine, where “colleagues of the mercenaries” are active in the ongoing battles in eastern Syria. The Moscow-based Conflict Intelligence Team, which monitors Russian involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, said that according to various sources, operatives of Russia’s secretive “Wagner private military company” were among those killed. Three telephone conversations conducted by survivors from the US attack with their friends, revealed details about what happened in Deir Ezzor on the night of February 7. Directly before the reports were leaked, Russian volunteers in Ukraine spoke about the “tragedy” from which their colleagues suffered in Syria. Igor Strelkov, a former intelligence officer who was a commander of pro-Putin clandestine military operations in Ukraine, said “it is clear that there are hundreds of dead and injured, several hundreds.” Strelkov strongly criticized the “official silence” regarding what happened in Syria with the Russian mercenaries, asserting that two units from the “Wagner Army” were completely destroyed during the attack. “The bodies of the victims were transported in two Kamaz trucks,” he added. In the first telephone recording, a survivor denied that the US attack had hit a position of Syrian regime forces. “Our groups were hit in the attack. Unit 5 was completely destroyed… 200 to 900 were killed. We were trapped. Four helicopters took part in the direct assault. We had only machineguns and no anti-missiles,” the survivor said.

 

Moscow won’t acknowledge the deaths of Russian mercenaries in U.S. airstrikes on Syrian targets, but the evidence is mounting — Meduza

On February 7, the U.S.-led international coalition delivered a strike against supporters of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor Province. According to the Americans, around 100 people died in the attack. Moscow denies that the victims included Russian citizens, but relatives and friends have confirmed the death of at least five Russian-passport holders. These men were not regular soldiers.

The Kremlin says it knows nothing about any dead Russian mercenaries in Syria — Meduza

Asked about the Russian mercenaries who reportedly died in a recent U.S.-led coalition strike against armed supporters of the Assad regime in Syria, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday that the Kremlin only has information about Russian soldiers and doesn’t know anything about other Russian citizens who might be on the ground in Syria.

 

Kremlin Distances Itself From Reports Of Mercenary Deaths In Syria

The chief Kremlin spokesman has suggested that if any Russians were killed by U.S. air strikes in Syria last week, they were not regular soldiers, continuing to distance President Vladimir Putin’s …

The Kremlin remains aloof as Russians reportedly wounded in American strikes return after fighting in Syria | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Even as the Kremlin denies any official link to them, sources say that scores of Russian mercenaries wounded in U.S. strikes in Syria are being treated at …

Nobody wants to talk about the Russians killed by U.S. airstrikes in Syria – VICE News

“We don’t have information about other Russians who might be in Syria.”

Nothing To See Here: Moscow Tight-Lipped On Russian Deaths In Syria

Senior officials in Moscow are responding cautiously to reports of Russian fighters being killed in U.S. air strikes in Syria, saying they have no formal connection to the Russian military.

Should Russia mourn countrymen lost in Syria? The Kremlin pleads ignorance. – The Washington Post

The Kremlin is going to remarkable lengths to play down the deaths of Russian military contractors in a recent U.S. airstrike in Syria.

Russia Dismisses Reports of Syria Casualties as ‘Classic Disinformation’

Russia has dismissed reports that hundreds of its citizens were killed in clashes with U.S.-led forces in Syria as “classic disinformation.” U.S. airstrikes are reported to have killed the largest number of Russians since the end of the Cold War on Feb. 7 when they targeted up to 200 mercenaries attempting to take over an oil refinery. The death toll is estimated to be as low as 11 and up to 217 private military contractors from Russia. “Disseminated reports about hundreds, dozens of dead Russians is classic disinformation,” Interfax quoted an unnamed Russian Foreign Ministry source telling reporters on Wednesday.

Russian Citizen, Activist among Dozens Killed in US-Led Strike in Deir Ezzor – Al-Manar TV Lebanon

Russian citizen and “Another Russia” activist Kiril Ananyev was killed in Syria as result of an airstrike launched by the US-led coalition in the countryside of Deir Ezzor last week, the group’s coordinator Alexander Averin told RIA Novosti news agency. “He wasn’t an official military service member” and used to be a volunteer in Donbass, Averin said, adding that Ananyev is survived by his wife and children. On Thursday, February 8, US Central Command announced that the coalition conducted what it described as “defensive airstrikes” against pro-government forces near the Euphrates River as a response to an alleged attack against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters. The airstrikes have reportedly resulted in death of at least 100 pro-government troops. Damascus has slammed the attack as a “a new act of aggression that constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity.” According to the Syrian Foreign Ministry, it “shows the direct US support for terrorists who and is aimed against sovereignty and integrity of Syria.” Commenting on the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the attack showcased that the real goal behind Washington’s “illegal military presence in Syria” was control over the country’s economic assets rather than defeating the terrorist group ISIL. The attack on pro-Damascus forces wasn’t the first one carried out by the US-led coalition. One of the most destructive attacks occurred on April 6, 2017, when the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the governmental military airfield in Ash Sha’irat after the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces blamed Damascus for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Shaykhun in Idlib.

UAWire – Widow of Russian mercenary killed in Syria: ‘Americans shot them like dogs’

The widow of Stanislav Matveyev, the 38 year-old Asbest resident and Wagner Group mercenary who was killed in the International Coalition airstrike in Syria on February 7, spoke to Russian media outlet Znak.ru. “They just shot them like dogs, like lab rats,” Elena Matveyeva exclaimed. Znak.com also reported that Matveyev’s widow received an audio recording, in which a male voice comments on the developments: “Hi. What is being shown in Syria… In short, they routed us. In short, in one company 200 were killed, 10 in another. I don’t know about the third, but they were severely messed up. The Pindosy [Americans – Russian slang] struck. First with artillery, then they sent two choppers and fired on us with heavy machine guns. Aside from machine guns, we had nothing, no MANPADs to speak of. It was hell. The Pindosy were well aware that we were Russians… In short, we were struck hard. Our guys are now sitting at the base and drinking. Many are missing. Another humiliation. No one considers us… I think that our own, our government, is cutting the rear now, and nobody is going to make any response to this”. (This recording was published earlier on the Telegram channel WarGonzo.) Elena Matveyeva was informed of her husband’s death on February 9 in a phone call from “colleagues from the Luhansk People’s Republic”, where Matveyev and Kosturov had fought for the militants between 2015 and 2016. It is possible that they were hired there by Wagner representatives for the trip to Syria. “I received a call from our Ataman from Asbest. First he asked how long it had been since I had contact with Stas. I said that I hadn’t heard from him in three days. And the girls who have men there also didn’t know anyone or anything. Literally a minute later, the Ataman called back and said: ‘Stas and Igor are no more’. I was in a shop at the time. I dropped the phone, and there it lies broken now. I came home on autopilot, and nearly got run over by a car,” the woman explained. Elena was not told the circumstances of her husband’s death.

US airstrike in Syria kills retired Russia’s GRU member previously fighting against Ukrainian forces in Donbas, – Russian propagandist. PHOTO

15.02.18 13:07 – US airstrike in Syria kills retired Russia’s GRU member previously fighting against Ukrainian forces in Donbas, – Russian propagandist. PHOTO Russian terrorist Zakhar Prilepin openly admits that the Russian “volunteers” receive salary for fighting against the Ukrainian government forces in the Donbas but many hired guns left for Syria when they were offered larger “fees” there. View photo news.

Widow Of Russian Mercenary Killed In Syria: ‘They Were Thrown Into Battle Like Pigs’

The wife of one of the Russian mercenaries reportedly killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria says he and others were sent into battle without any defense, “like pigs.”

Families of Russian mercenaries killed in war zones get compensations – media | UNIAN

According to some reports, 217 mercenaries employed by a Russian private military company Wagner were killed in a shelling by the U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria on Feb 7. In an interview with Znak.com, the so-called ataman of Stanytsia Svyzto-Nikolskaya (Russia’s Sverdlovsk region), Oleg Surnin, said that families of mercenaries killed in action used to receive a RUB 3 million compensation, which was confirmed by Wagner members. Payments were carried out without delays, he said. The official also elaborated on the two of the mercenaries who had been killed in the U.S. strike. A 38-year-old Stanislav Matveyev and a 45-year-old Igor Kosoturov came from Surnin’s village. The ataman said that in 2015 Kosoturov fought against Ukraine government troops for about a year on the side of the “LPR” militants in Donbas and was injured in the foot. Prior to the Russian invasion of Donbas, he served in the 12th Brigade of the GRU [military intelligence]. After returning from Luhansk he decided to go to Syria, “to help”. “That’s this feeling of patriotism. Many of his fellow soldiers who were with him in Ukraine later went to Syria… There are many Russians there,” he said. “There is a training base in Rostov where Wagner PMC are training them,” Surnin said. He noted that he had talked with Kosoturov a week before his death. “They were guarding some plant. As I understood, it’s oil-related,” Sternin said. According to the ataman, the bodies of the fallen mercenaries were taken to St. Petersburg [Ed: Wagner PMC HQ in St Petersburg] for the reason unknown but this information still needs to be verified, according to the report. He also claimed that before that massive U.S. strike killing numbers of mercenaries in Syria, everything was “wonderful” for them.

 

Hundreds of Putin mercenaries were targeted by US jets in Syria | World | The Times

Several hundred Russian mercenaries were involved in the clash in Syria last week in which US aircraft killed scores of pro-Assad fighters, according to a Mo

Did U.S. Air Power (Think F-15s and B-52s) Kill Russian Mercenaries in Syria? | The National Interest Blog

A mystery unfolds.

Putin’s private army in Syria: Officially illegal, the Kremlin denies it, but the evidence is in the numbers – Europe – Haaretz.com

The St. Petersburg-based website Fontanka reported that about 3,000 Russians under contract to the Wagner group have fought in Syria since 2015

15 Russian mercenaries die in explosion at ammunition depot in Syria – 112.international

Fifteen Russian mercenaries deceased due to the blast at an ammunitions depot in Deir-ez-Zor province. Syrian observatory for human rights reported that on Thursday. A group of the militants escorted government troops as they proceeded to oil and gas depots on the eastern banks of Euphrates river in Deir-ez-Zor. The explosion occurred at a local arms depot, located in the area held by the Syrian democratic forces that enjoy the U.S. support. The mercenaries apparently attempted to get a hand on the weapons, but they triggered an explosive device instead. 23 men deceased in the blast, inlcuding fifteen Russians and another eight local mercenaries of Bashaar al-Assad.

UAWire – Russian Ministry of Defense requests that military personnel stop using social networks

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has issued recommendations to the military on safe use of the Internet, Izvestia newspaper …

“Russians killed” in major US Syria strike | Euronews

Many are feared dead in a US strike on a government base in Deir el-Zor province.

 

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