All,

This is a story you may have missed as I did and perhaps will find of interest.

In 2017 the Wagner Group, (Russian contractors similar to the American private military company founded in 1997 by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince: known variously as Blackwater/Xe Services/ Academi) while moving to cross the Euphrates River and gain terrain for the Assad regime, came into close contact with Kurdish forces and their American advisors. The situation was de-conflicted at that time by all sides agreeing to a “full stop.” However, you’ll not be surprised to learn that the Russian contractors of Wagner Group and their Syrian allies, after a short pause, continued their operations/movement and were able to occupy the disputed terrain.

This same situation occurred again in February of this year. The articles below give the details. Apparently the Russians were under constant observation by Coalition forces as they crossed the Euphrates near Deir Ezzor and took Kurdish forces, again with American advisors, under small arms fire. In an attempt to de-conflict this situation American military command contacted their Russian counterparts and advised them to withdraw the Wagner Group forces. The Russians repeatedly denied that the troop on the ground were theirs. Eventually, to protect U.S.-led Coalition troops, the Wagner group element of 500-700 was taken under fire by  Coalition aircraft including: F-22A Raptors, MQ-9B Reapers, F-15E Strike Eagles, AC-130 gunships, U.S. Army Apache helicopters and U.S. Marine artillery. The result was the annihilation of the Wagner Group’s force. Estimates of their dead range from 196, according to Russian sources, to near 400.

https://thedefensepost.com/2018/02/10/russians-killed-coalition-strikes-deir-ezzor-syria/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/world/europe/russia-syria-dead.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/23/what-we-know-about-the-shadowy-russian-mercenary-firm-behind-the-attack-on-u-s-troops-in-syria/

Best,
Rusty

More than 200 Russians may have been killed in Coalition strikes in Syria