Spiegel's investigation on «hundred of Russian servicemen killed» by US airstrikes in Syria led to surprising result

Spiegel's investigation on «hundred of Russian servicemen killed» by US airstrikes in Syria led to surprising result | Русская весна

In early February of 2018, the US Army repulsed the offensive of the Syrian forces on the position of pro-American Kurdish-Arab forces in the province of Deir ez-Zor. Various news agencies reported that hundreds of attackers, including Russian servicemen, were killed.

The German edition Der Spiegel conducted its own investigation and established other facts.

Earlier it was reported that hundreds of Russian soldiers were killed by US air strikes in Syria in early February, but the Spiegel investigation shows that everything was completely different, the German magazine writes.

"When it comes to cursing, a person does not hold back. "Sons of a bitch" Is the softest saying that comes out of the mouth of a militia fighter when he furiously talks about the hours-long hell of US air strikes south-east of the city of Deir ez-Zor. As long as the smoke from the burnt off-road cars continued to cling around them, he and five other men came to retrieve the body of one of their dead fighters from the blazing coals of the blown up building, "says Spiegel journalist Christopher Reuter.

"This is a scene from a two-minute video from the battlefield that one of the fighters took off on the afternoon of February 8, a few hours after the fiery storm, providing Der Spiegel magazine and the news site Euphrates Post, writing about the region's news. This is the first real video from the site of one of the most mysterious battles in this increasingly complex war, "the article says.

On February 8, the US Defense Department announced that they had prevented the attack of the "pro-government forces of Assad" on the base of the "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) led by the Kurds, supported by Washington. The troops of Assad allegedly attacked a Kurdish-Arab object with the use of armored vehicles, and the American aircraft struck back, killing more than a hundred people from among the attackers.

But what really happened that night in the area of ​​small semi-abandoned villages on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River? The Spiegel investigation alleges that a group of journalists from a German magazine spent 2 weeks reconstructing the tragic events on February 8, 2018. Correspondents interviewed eyewitnesses and participants of those gunfights, communicated with the staff of the only hospital in Deir ez Zor and talked with the servicemen of the local military airfield.

As a result, German reporters were able to restore a holistic picture, very different from those that gained wide popularity in Russian, Western and international media.

The material Der Spiegel reported that at 17:00 on February 7, 250 fighters began to build a bridge from the west to the east bank of the Euphrates River. They were representatives of two pro-government units of the militia, which are financed by Iran and are fighting for Bashar Assad. Apart from them, there were also servicemen of the 4th division of the SAA, Afghan and Iraqi detachments, as well as two brigades under the command of Iranian advisers. Eyewitnesses claim that Russians were not among them.

Washington and Moscow had previously agreed to regard the Euphrates River as a line of delimitation: in the west of the river, the Syrian army and its allies are based, in the east - the "Syrian Democratic Forces", which are overseen by the Pentagon.

Discovering the intention to organize a ferry to the eastern shore of the Euphrates, the US military regarded it as an aggression, opening a warning fire, after which the "attackers" retreated. On this day, no one was injured by the shots, Christopher Reuter insists in the investigation. But they did not give up: twice as many forces of the same armed formation crossed the Euphrates in a different place with the onset of darkness and went unnoticed to the village of Marrat on the eastern shore.

When around 22:00 they again started moving towards the positions of the "Syrian Democratic Forces", the Americans opened fire for defeat. According to the Pentagon, after 20 to 30 artillery shells exploded 500 meters from the Kurdish headquarters, the forces of the American coalition attacked the enemy from the air and land.

"And it's still said softly," - says the article "Spiegel". Since at about the same time additional forces of Shiite and Syrian tribal militias attacked the same base of SDF from the side of Tabia, the US used all the destructive arsenal available to them, the journalist of the German magazine adds.

They used unmanned aerial vehicles armed with rockets, attack helicopters and heavy aircraft AS-130 - flying batteries designed to support ground forces on the battlefield, as well as missiles and ground artillery. They fought at night, and then in the morning, in a group of Syrian militiamen, who came only to take the bodies of the dead. The Americans continued shelling and on 9 February, when the same armed group appeared on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

The Syrian soldiers who participated in those events argue that the US military was furious over a breach of an earlier agreement that part of the pro-government forces that fought with ISIS* will remain on the eastern bank of the river if their number does not exceed 400 fighters and if they do not will show aggression. And it was this part of the agreement that was broken.

Der Spiegel adds that there was also a number of Russian fighters in Tabia's settlement on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. However, the Syrians assured the Germans that they had not participated in the battles, but up to 20 of them were killed. In total, more than 200 assailants were killed: approximately 80 Syrian soldiers from the 4th Division of the SAA, some 100 Iraqi and Afghan Shiites, and another 70 Syrian militiamen.

The material also specifies that everything happened at night, and because of the hasty retreat of pro-government forces from Tabia, the situation became entangled. A member of the staff of the only major hospital in Deir ez-Zor later told reporters that about 10 bodies of Russian soldiers were brought to his medical facility. The aerodrome worker saw how the bodies of the deceased were loaded into 2 pickups and taken to the waiting Russian transport vehicle, which left after that in the direction of the airfield on the northern border of Syria.

Then, the identities of nine dead Russians were identified, Der Spiegel said. All of them were employees of a private military company known as the "Wagner Group", but in the beginning media reported that the dead Russians were tens of times larger, several hundred, and the Kremlin allegedly trying to hide this fact.

This version sounded so convincing that Western news agencies picked it up, despite the fact that official Moscow denied these reports, saying only about the five dead citizens of the Russian Federation.

But if the Kremlin denies or only partially recognizes something related to the war in the Syrian Republic, it only adds another version of plausibility - especially since Russian losses in Syria are constantly being underestimated, the author of the German article believes.

Syrian colleague of Christopher Reiter comes from Tabia, but he emigrated to Turkey and founded the Euphrates Post news portal, having kept his contacts in Syria. He assures that the February operation was not a Russian attack with a large number of casualties among Russians: "Russians in Tabia simply were not lucky: to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

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* terror organization banned in Russian Federation

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