Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

The Deir Ezzor Turkey Shoot

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The number of Russia dead is most likely around 215, with about 430 wounded, using historical Russian reporting of 2:1 wounded to killed. The number of 644 killed & wounded in Girken’s reporting is probably close to the truth.

Claims of “rogue” operations in Russian denials are lame, as hundreds of Russians and armored forces were involved. Girken/Strelkov’s original reports are most likely the closest thing to the truth that we will not read in Russian reporting. This is most likely an attempt by Russia to reduce any official Russian body counts in order to make Russia appear in a more favorable light. 

This is a major embarrassment to Russia as they were warned and chose to ignore those warnings. 

I expect to read more Russian denials, counter-accusations, and Russian claims of provocations.  

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By far the biggest single Russia story in the Western (and Eastern European) media overnight is the annihilation of the Russian Wagner PMC reinforced Battalion Tactical Group by US air power at Deir Ezzor in Syria.

Media accounts suggest the Russians intended to overrun the positions held by Kurds and US advisors. Tactics described were similar to assaults observed in Ukraine, including the use of MBTs as fire support assets. This is consistent with reports that most of the Wagner mercs were recruited from the cadre of combat experienced Russian mercenaries operating in Donbass. The US response is claimed to have included precision strikes by MQ-9 Predators, F-15E Strike Eagles, B-52H BUFFs, AC-130 gunships, and AH-64D Apaches.

Girkin’s social media commentaries were picked up by Bershidsky, who did a quite decent article for Bloomberg, but limited the body counts cited to ~200. Girkin claimed he had been given numbers as high as 644. Experience in Ukraine was that Russia typically suffered 2 WIA for each KIA due to poor medevac capabilities and low first aid skills, suggesting 644 might be 215 KIA and ~430 WIA. Whether we even find out what the real numbers were is an open question. The impact on the morale of the Russian force of 430 maimed and traumatized troops is apt to resemble what was seen in Ukraine – desertions, absenteeism, and often cowardice under fire.

Oreshkin’s observations on the internal political impact inside Russia, where the Putin regime continues to deny the presence of Russian troops, are that the ultranationalists, military and security forces will be infuriated. As in Ukraine, Russian troops were fed into a meat grinder, their sacrifice denied publicly, and their families denied pensions and benefits. Most of the Wagner PMC mercs are former active duty professional Russian Army personnel, with some former Marines, Interior Ministry, and other paramilitaries.

Putin seems to be determined to wholly alienate the Russian military and security forces.

Putin had to approve Russian attack on US troops | New York Post

It was inevitable. Russian “mercenaries” attacked a forward base in Syria where they knew American advisors were stationed. It was a test. And our military…

Putin received a blow and got into an unfamiliar situation: what does the defeat of Russian mercenaries in Syria mean – Апостроф

Dmitry Oreshkin, Russian political scientist, especially for the “Apostrophe” Monday, February 12, 2018, 21:08 February 7 in Syria, when an attempt was made to seize an oil field as a result of artillery and aviation strikes of an international coalition led by US troops, mercenaries from the Russian private military company Wagner were killed. According to unofficial information, the number of dead can be several hundred, the wounded – even more. At the same time, Moscow officially denies the death of its citizens in Syria. Russian political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin told the Apostrophe why such tough actions by Americans were a surprise for Vladimir Putin, which now threatens the Russian president and what the Kremlin can answer. This blow at the Wagner PMC seems to me a violation of informal arrangements. That is, the Russian army does not function there. Accordingly, America, knowing full well that there are Russian servicemen there, should not touch them very directly. It’s kind of like a concept. And here a direct blow to the advancing ground troops, among which, as the Americans probably knew, there are people from PMCs. This, I think, was not expected in the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin did not expect this either. Because it means – in his ideas – the paradigm shift. He perceives the Americans, and indeed the West, as cowards who will scream and calm down. They took Crimea from Ukraine – they will protest and get used to it. And then on here is such a thing … This, I think, creates a new framework of relations. And most importantly – there is nothing to answer in this situation. Because, formally speaking, there are no Russian armed forces there, there was no blow to Russia. And informally, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin lost a lot in the eyes of the patriotic public. And it was not for nothing that the scandal was raised by none other than Mr. Girkin (the former leader of the so-called DNR Igor Girkin (Strelkov) – Apostrophe), who accuses Putin of weakness, cowardice and in general personifies from the right, such nationalist, fascist-power side of the claim to Putin. That is, from my point of view, if Putin is replaced by someone, then, most likely, there will be much more radical “siloviki” groups that believe that Putin is pursuing too weak a policy, but it is necessary to act more harshly everywhere where only can. So this is primarily a serious undermining of Vladimir Vladimirovich’s positions in the eyes of the so-called patriotic public and the siloviki, in particular.

US, Russian officials dispute reports of Russians casualties – ABC News

US, Russian officials dispute reports of Russians casualties

Kremlin: No information about reports of Russian mercenaries killed in Syria | Arab News

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Tuesday it had no information about Russian mercenaries reportedly being killed in Syria, saying it only knew about Russian nationals who had been deployed there as members of the Russian armed forces. It was responding to media reports citing associates of Russian mercenaries saying some of them had been killed this month when US-led coalition forces clashed with pro-government forces in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.

Russia calls reports of mass Syria casualties ‘disinformation’: RIA

Media reports about hundreds of Russians killed while fighting in Syria is “classic disinformation”, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry source as saying on Wednesday.
Putin Is Struggling to Keep His Wars Separate – Bloomberg

The troops who died in Syria are called mercenaries, not heroes. Will the Russian people buy that?

Russia is using mercenaries to make it look like it’s losing fewer troops in Syria | Business Insider

Just last week, Igor Girkin, the former defence minister for the self-declared Donetsk Peoples Republic, a separatist region backed by Russia in eastern Ukraine, said Russian mercenaries operating in Syria who died in combat were cremated on sight, so as to hide the true cost of Russia’s involvement.  “‘No body, no criminal case’ – this Russian investigative principle is being creatively used in the military campaign,” Girkin said on the Russian social media website VKontakte. “It is possible to dispose of a considerable number of bodies without anyone noticing. What can I say? There has never been such cynicism in our country.” Russian mercenaries are reportedly being used for two purposes: to achieve objectives that the poorly trained and equipped Syrian Arab Army are not capable of achieving alone, and to hide the true cost of Russia’s involvement in Syria.

U.S. Strikes Killed Scores of Russia Fighters in Syria, Sources Say – Bloomberg

U.S. forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to one U.S. official and three Russians familiar with the matter.

Авиаудар ВВС США по сирийским военным и подразделениям ЧВК “Вагнер” под Дейр-эз-Зором – YouTube


U.S. Air Strikes Reportedly Kill ‘Dozens’ Of Russian Fighters In Syria

U.S. air strikes killed multiple Russia mercenary soldiers serving in Syria, according to news reports and open-source researchers, with some reports saying dozens may have died.

Dozens of Russians Are Believed Killed in U.S.-Backed Syria Attack – The New York Times

Although only four Russians have been confirmed dead, reports continue to circulate that many more died in fighting in eastern Syria on Feb. 7-8.

US Reportedly Kills Russian Contractors in Syria – YouTube


Mattis Says Unaware Any Russian Mercenaries Killed By U.S. Strikes In Syria

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he has received no word that U.S. air strikes killed multiple Russian mercenary soldiers in Syria, although he has seen reports of such deaths in the news media.

Russians Among Those Killed in U.S. Airstrike in Eastern Syria – WSJ

Russian military contractors were among those killed in a rare U.S. airstrike in Syria last week, U.S. and Russian officials said, highlighting the continued risks as Moscow and Washington vie for influence in the region after the defeat of Islamic State.

Dozens of Russians Are Believed Killed in U.S.-Backed Syria Attack – The New York Times

Although only four Russians have been confirmed dead, reports continue to circulate that many more died in fighting in eastern Syria on Feb. 7-8.

US forces reportedly killed more than 100 Russian mercenaries inside Syria – Vox

The Syrian proxy war is heating up.

Here’s What We Know About The US Airstrikes That Killed Russian Fighters In Syria

There was little doubt on Tuesday that American airstrikes last week killed Russian mercenaries in Syria.

Did The U.S. Really Wipe Out 200 Russian Mercenaries?

The Kremlin hasn’t acknowledged a single loss from the deadliest reported attack since the Cold War ended. And that’s why the Wagner private mercenaries were there to begin with.

US strike killed at least 100 Russian mercenaries during Syria attack

The US killed at least 100 Russian mercenaries during a failed attack on a US-held base in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region of Syria.

Reports: Russian Military Contractors Killed in US-Led Attack in Syria

Head of US Air Forces Central Command says US forces used drones and B-52 bombers to strike fighters after they came under fire from a tank

‘Dozens’ of Russian mercenaries killed in US airstrike in Syria

The U.S. military is defending an airstrike on pro-Syrian government forces last week that reportedly killed Russian mercenaries.

A massive battle between US and Syrian pro-regime forces reportedly killed more than 200 Russians | Business Insider

US airstrikes in response to what it called an “unprovoked attack” killed around 100 people in Syria earlier this month according to the Pentagon, but a new report from Bloomberg says that number may be as many as 300, and that they were Russian mercenaries. If true, the battle may mark the deadliest encounter between the Cold War rivals in decades. While the Kremlin has declined to comment, and no independent party has yet verified the reports, US and Russian aligned forces have fought on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict and in close proximity for years. If the US did kill Russian military contractors, it falls short of killing official Russian servicemembers, which could escalate into a larger war.

Video released of U.S. massive airstrike on Russian mercenaries | UNIAN

Video released of U.S. massive airstrike on Russian mercenaries. View news feed in world news for 13 February from UNIAN Information Agency

The names of three more Russian mercenaries killed in Syria are named

The Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) has published the names of three other alleged Russian mercenaries from the Wagner PMC, who died in US air strikes on February 7 in Syria. According to the data found in the network, this is Alexei Shikhov from Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir with the callsign “Apostle” (the name is unknown) and Ruslan Gavrilov from the village of Kedrovoye in the Sverdlovsk region. Earlier, CIT named the names of five other mercenaries identified by it: Alexey Ladygin from Ryazan, Stanislav Matveyev and Igor Kosoturov from Asbest of the Sverdlovsk region, Vladimir Loginov from Kaliningrad and Kirill Ananiev from Moscow. On February 7, an international coalition led by the United States struck a group of armed supporters of the Bashar Assad regime in the vicinity of the Syrian Deir ez Zor. According to the media, as a result of the raid, which, according to the US military, was self-defense, many Russian mercenaries were killed. The death toll ranges from ten to 200 people. The Ministry of Defense denies losses among Russians.

Russian mercenaries killed by US troops in Syria gun battle | World | The Times

US troops killed dozens of Russian mercenaries in Syria in the deadliest clash between the former Cold War foes in decades, according to sources in three differ

Russian troops ‘massacred by US’ | Lismore Echo

RUSSIAN “mercenaries” appear to have been among hundreds of troops killed in a three-hour onslaught by US forces.

Terrorist Girkin talked about “extraordinary” losses of mercenaries of the Russian Federation as a result of the air strike of the US Air Force in Syria (updated)

Former terrorist leader of the Dnieper Igor Girkin argues that the losses among Russian mercenaries in Syria, suffered as a result of the recent US air strike, exceeded the 600 mark. He announced this on his page in the social network, informs Censor . “Now it is clear that hundreds of people are killed and wounded, several hundred, but the last figure (” not final, “as reported) is generally beyond the limit.” Even for 600, namely 644. Perhaps disinformation, even though it came from Syria Earlier, 215-217 “200x” numbers sounded … And they also say that “it is not final,” since many people are still considered to be missing, “the terrorist said. At the same time, Girkin notes that the column of mercenaries totaled a little more than 500 people and admits that one of the subdivisions of the Defense Ministry’s MTR could also fall into the trap. Later, he added an explanation for those who doubt and do not believe in the total rogue of the column of Russian mercenaries in Syria. PMC is 100% sure of the defeat, because I received information on several channels from those who are there or was at the time of the tragedy, “the terrorist wrote. See also: Syrian rebels have published new shots of the destruction of the Russian Su-25 attack aircraft. VIDEO On February 8, US troops destroyed a column of Russian mercenaries, numbered by 300 to 500 people, with tanks, artillery and light armored vehicles, which was sent to capture oil deposits in the Syrian Deir ez Zor area. The Asadov news agency and the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the fact of an attack by American forces on a convoy near the city of Deir ez Zor in Syria. Also, information about the fight was confirmed by the US Department of Defense.

US destroys Russian tank in Syria, reportedly killing three | TheHill

A U.S. drone, acting in self-defense, destroyed a Russian-made T-72 tank in eastern Syria over the weekend, the head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command told reporters Tuesday.

Dramatic moment US fighter jet obliterates Russian tank in Syria raid that wiped out hundreds of fighters and dozens of Vladimir Putin’s soldiers

Moscow and Washington didn’t comment on the deaths, which would leave both countries red faced if it turns out that Russian fighters were part of a unit that attacked American troops.

“Russians Killed In Battle With US In Syria”: This Story Is Much Bigger Than Reported – Tsarizm

“Russians Killed In Battle With US In Syria”: This Story Is Much Bigger Than Reported. US Was In Touch With Russia Before, During, And After The Incident.