Uproar in Moscow after Death of ‘Russian Mercenaries’ in US Airstrike in Syria

Uproar in Moscow after Death of ‘Russian Mercenaries’ in US Airstrike in Syria

Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 - 08:00
Syrian pro-regime members hold a position as they stand on the back of an armored vehicle in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, on October 31, 2017, during an operation against ISIS militants. AFP
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.

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