A shocking statement made by the director of CIA and secretary of state nominee, Mike Pompeo, revealed that more than two hundred Russian mercenaries had been killed in the recent U.S. airstrikes conducted in Syria.
Official Claims 200 Russians Killed in U.S. Strikes
In February, a shocking number of Russian mercenaries were killed by the U.S. forces in what may have been the worst clash between the former Cold War enemies. The CIA director, Mike Pompeo, and three other Russian officials confirmed that more than 200 soldiers, mostly Russian, who were fighting with Bashar Al-Assad’s forces were killed during a deadly face-off on a U.S. held base in Deir Ezzor region.
After the attack, a U.S. official reported almost 400 casualties including a death toll of 100 soldiers. However, it was unclear how many of the soldiers belonged to Russia.
The rogue operation which started off as a domestic crackdown on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces has now transformed into a proxy war of sorts involving several regional powers like Russia, Iran, Tukey, and even Israel as well as Syrian extremist and Kurdish groups. Russia refused to claim responsibility for the deadly attack even though many U.S. officials said that the assault had resulted in a number of Russian casualties.
Russians Refuse to Claim Responsibility
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, refused to answer any questions about the deadly attack and said that Kremlin has no data on any of the country’s armed forces who were killed on Syrian ground. United States Secretary of Defense, James Mattis called the situation perplexing but revealed no further details about the incident.
After the deadly military action in Syria made headlines in the media, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump engaged in a telephonic conversation, however, the military conflict was not brought up in the discussion. A former Russian diplomat and political analyst said that he wasn’t surprised by Russia’s attitude towards the scandal and it seemed like Kremlin quietly swept the incident under the carpet to avoid an international crisis.
An Unprovoked Attack
In 2015, Assad’s beleaguered regimen was saved with the help of regional powers like Iran and Russia who sent thousands of troops into Syria to help Assad win the longstanding battle against the Islamic State. Now that the extremist group, which once controlled a large part of the country, has been defeated, other militias and rival powers are fighting to fill the void left behind by the Islamic State.
The U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces troops responded to the incoming threat by launching airstrikes and firing the artillery. However, it was reported that the unprovoked attack didn’t result in any fatalities on the coalition side, and those personnel from the attacking side who turned around and fled were not targeted by the U.S. military.
The U.S. officials say that they aren’t sure who was behind the attack. It could have been one of the many regional powers present on the Syrian ground or some other shadowy organization with malicious intent of causing confusion and chaos on the battle ground and starting another world war. The Defense ministry is currently in dialogue with kremlin to get to the heart of the matter.
Accusations from Russia and Syria
Russian officials made a vague statement after the attack saying that only 25 Syrian soldiers were injured, although no mention about the Russian mercenaries was made. Russia accused the U.S. of infiltrating Syria to gain control over the country’s economic assets even though both nations were constantly in communication with each other before and after the unprovoked attack of February 7.
Bashar Al-Assad also condemned the attack by U.S. military and called it a war crime. According to Alexander Ionov, the head of kremlin group which maintains ties with separatists, many Russians and Ukrainians were injured as a result of the conflict including dozens of his own men who are currently in military hospitals in Moscow, receiving treatment for their wounds.