Kremlin says no Russian forces hit by American strike in Syrian Deir ez-Zor, users of social networks prove otherwise with their posts

The first death of Russian soldier killed in the American strike in Deir ez Zor on February 7 has been reported on social networks.

On February 7, the US-led coalition forces conducted the strike against the Syrian militia affiliated with Assad in the province of Deir ez Zor. The U.S. coalition said that the blow was struck in response to an attack on the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). According to Reuters, at least 100 people were killed in the attack.

Commenting on the situation, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that there are no Russian soldiers in the region.

Later, reports started appearing of the presence of the Russian military among the forces attacked by the US-led coalition.

The TV company CBS, citing an unnamed Pentagon representative, claimed that there were Russians among the Syrian pro-government forces who attacked the SDF headquarters. 

The Iranian news agency Fars has reported that three militants affiliated with the group Hezbollah, as well as several militiamen and ‘several Russian military advisers’, were killed on as a result of a strike by the coalition forces against supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Deir ez-Zor province.

At the same time users of Russian social networks suggest that the losses suffered by Russians are far more considerable.

The troops that came under American fire were not Russian regular troops but mercenaries from an infamous Russian private military company (PMC), the Wagner Group.

The first post on Russian social network VKontakte came from the former Donetsk People’s Republic leader, Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov).

Girkin, citing his sources familiar with the situation, wrote that two divisions of Russian military were destroyed by American strikes.

“Under the guise of the Syrians whose losses are estimated to be as many as 100 individuals, two tactical divisions of Wagner were attacked by American aircraft. One [division] was almost completely destroyed; the second was totaled. Losses, in all likelihood, are very close to this figure [100 killed]," Girkin wrote.

In a later post, Girkin clarified that the 5th Assault Squad, armor division and an artillery unit were destroyed during the coalition strike.

Later, Mark Feygin, a prominent Russian lawyer, wrote on Twitter:

“A person who is in contact with Wagner people said that the number PMCs contractors killed in the Euphrates valley in Syria reached 215 people. They approached the Kurdish strongholds, positioned the artillery, started shooting and were immediately covered by American fire.”

Russian blogger El Murid, Anatoly Nesmiyan, also posted a letter from a soldier who was among the military that came under American fire in Deir ez Zor province, calling it a “meat grinder”.

“I will describe what happened, “the letter reads. “We engaged in a fight on the night of February 7-8. We were completely totaled. I had 33 fighters and 11 others for reinforcement plus 3 units of armor including a tank. Everything was burned down, not even a tank frame was left. We had to walk out of this “meat grinder”. Only 17 survived, the others were killed. And now, I only have 9 people left. The others were wounded and taken to the hospital. The artillery division suffered heavy losses too. They were “wiped out” by assault drones in the first 30 minutes. That was a serious fight with the American Special Forces. We were also attacked by their helicopters. We had no chances against them [the Americans]. We were only running and hiding, from one hole to another, from one house to another,” writes the soldier.

“We got into a close contact with their infantry and they moved back. Then the [American] choppers started to attack and this entire “meat grinder” began,” the mercenary summed up.

Russia is known to hide its losses in the Syrian operation. The information about the casualties can only be confirmed after posts of relatives and friends of killed Russian soldiers appeared on social networks.

The first report of the death of Russian contractor from the Wagner Group killed in the American strike in Deir ez Zor on February 7 has already been confirmed by his friends. The post from VKontakte page of the killed soldier was shared by a twitter user, Necro Mancer.

“On February 7, my friend and commander of my military unit Alexey Ladygin (aka Hmuriy) was killed in Deir ez Zor. Alex took part in the events in Crimea as a part of speznaz (special forces), fought near Debaltseve (eastern Ukraine). We invite all those who lost their friends in the 5th Assault squad to take part in a memorial service at the Seraphimovskoye cemetery. We gather at 19:00 at the entrance,” the post from VKontakte page reads.

  Syria, Russia, US-led Coalition