In Western political and diplomatic circles, the received idea these days is that war in Syria has reached its end and that what one should now focus on is reconstruction.
However, like all other received ideas this one, too, is as full of holes and Swiss cheese.
The first hole is that what we have witnessed in Syria over the past seven years was not a war in any classical sense of the term. What we saw was several wars woven into each other, in the context of a humanitarian disaster sharpened by rivalry among a dozen cynical powers in pursuit of contradictory goals.
In that sense, far from being at the end of anything in Syria, we may be at the beginning of a new phase in this historic tragedy.
Igor Kosotorov wasn’t a serving member of the Russian army. But relatives of the 45-year-old grocery shop owner believe he is among scores of Russian citizens killed this month in an airstrike by a US-led coalition near Deir al-Zour, an oil-rich territory in eastern .
After initial denials, Russia’s foreign ministry admitted on Thursday that five citizens were likely to have been killed in the bombing while fighting alongside pro-regime Syrian forces on 7 February. But reports suggest as many as 200 Russian nationals could have lost their lives, which, if confirmed, would be the most lethal clash between US and Russian citizens since the end of the cold war.
While the numbers remain unclear, a picture is emerging of some of those believed to have died; some were battle-hardened veterans of Moscow’s war in eastern , inspired to travel to Syria by patriotism or a resurgent sense of Russian nationalism. Others were simply hoping for a lucrative payday.
Yelena Matveyeva was eagerly awaiting what she hoped would be her husband’s return to Russia from Syria, where he had been allegedly fighting for months as a mercenary alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Spirits buoyed that he could be home in weeks, she decided to buy a new dress. While in a store in Asbest, their hometown in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region, east of Moscow, she got a call from a friend.
Matveyeva said her friend asked her if she had heard anything from her husband or Igor Kosoturov, another military contractor from Asbest. “I said, ‘I haven’t been able to call him for three days,'” Matveyeva recounts. “Literally, in a minute he calls me back and says, ‘Stasa [her husband Stanislav] and Igor are dead.'”
U.S. forces killed scores of Russian contract soldiers in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to a U.S. official and three Russians familiar with the matter.
More than 200 mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base and refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured.
The Kheimim Airbase and the maritime logistics base in the city of Tartus came under a sophisticated attack Saturday, with terrorists for the first time using state-of-the-art drone technology to target the facilities, the Russian Defense Ministry reported Monday.
The Pentagon said it is “concerned” about weapons falling into terrorists’ hands after Moscow said the drones used in the attacks on Russian bases in Syria could have only been supplied by a “technologically advanced state.”
Mercenaries from Russia are ‘buying’ Syrian virgins for £75 as sexual partners as they fight a secret war against jihadists in support of Damascus dictator Bashar al-Assad, it has been reported.
These clandestine Russian forces also decapitate captured jihadists receiving a bounty of £13 for each beheaded ISIS fighter, claimed a veteran hired gun.
Moscow has denied deploying mercenaries in the country but in recent days two members of these unofficial private armies were seized by ISIS and are believed to have been beheaded.
Now an ex-Russian army man serving as a mercenary has revealed secrets of the deployment, often at the frontline facing jihadist forces.
Two suspected mercenaries from a ‘private army’ used by Vladimir Putin in Syria have been captured by ISIS, according to video claims.
ISIS news agency Amaq claims the men, named as Roman Vasilievich Zabolotny and Grigory Mikhailovich Surkanov, were seized near the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
They can be seen wounded and handcuffed in a video, explaining where they are from in Russia and where they were captured.
They are believed to be mercenaries belonging to the so-called Wagner private army, allegedly deployed by Moscow in hot spots to lower casualty numbers among regular forces. However, the Russian Defence Ministry has strenuously denied losing two soldiers.
In the past five weeks, U.S. forces in Syria have struck directly at the Assad regime and its allies in Syria no less than four times. On May 18, U.S. warplanes struck regime and allied militia forces that breached a 34-mile exclusion zone around a U.S. outpost in southeastern Syria. Then on June 8 and June 20, the United States shot down Iranian-made drones as they approached the outpost.
But the most dramatic event so far was the June 18 downing of a Syrian air force Su-22 by a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. This took place after regime forces attacked a town held by the U.S.-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Tabqa, in northern Syria. The Su-22 dropped bombs near the SDF fighters, ignored U.S. warnings, and was then shot down.
A U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian regime aircraft after it attacked U.S.-backed forces in Syria on Sunday, according to the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve coalition.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down the Syrian SU-22 in what the coalition said was a “show of force” after the Syrian fighter dropped several bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters south of Taqbah. The coalition acted “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces,” according to the task force’s statement. The engagement represents the first time a U.S. aircraft has shot down an aircraft belonging to the Bashar al-Assad regime.
President Bashar al-Assad continues to retain hundreds of tonnes of his country’s chemical stockpile after deceiving United Nations inspectors sent in to dismantle it, according to Syria’s former chemical weapons research chief and other experts.
Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat – who served as head of chemical warfare in the powerful 5th Division of the military until he defected in 2013 – told The Telegraph that Assad’s regime failed to declare large amounts of sarin precursor chemicals and other toxic materials.
Leading up to the U.S. attack on Syria, President Trump was the target of a daily barrage by the mainstream media and Democrat members of Congress demanding an inquiry into what became known as ‘Russia Gate,” the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections that helped Trump beat Hillary Clinton.
No White House briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer could make it to the end without reporters bringing up the alleged links between Russia and Trump’s election team.
Syrian rebels are plotting to mount a poison gas attack in Damascus and blame it on Bashar al-Assad’s government to provide a pretext for further US missile strikes and possible regime change, Vladimir Putin has claimed.
Speaking in Moscow at a joint press conference with Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president, Mr Putin claimed that “a number” of sources had told him about such plans.
Russia has sent as many as a dozen more fighter jets to Syria, days after President Putin’s announcement that Moscow was scaling back its military deployment in the war-torn country.
Vladimir Putin declared last week that Russia would begin withdrawing forces following a ceasefire deal between the government and opposition.
However 12 Su-25s were reported to have arrived at Moscow’s base in the coastal city of Latakia on Monday, signalling its intention to remain deeply involved in the conflict.
The Syrian government and the opposition have agreed to a nationwide ceasefire due to start at midnight tonight, Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, as he announced Russia would withdraw some of its troops from the war-torn country.
The ceasefire deal follows talks between Turkey, Russia, and Iran and could potentially pave the way to a peace deal that would end the five-year civil war in Syria.
“It was just reported that today, a few hours ago, an event occurred which we have not just been waiting for, for a long time, but which we’ve worked hard to bring about. Three documents have been signed,” Mr Putin said at a meeting with the Russian defence and foreign ministers in Moscow.
Mass graves with dozens of bodies of civilians subjected to brutal torture have been discovered in Aleppo neighborhoods left by militants, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.
Many of the corpses were found with missing body parts, and most had gunshot wounds to the head, according to a statement by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov.