US airstrike on ISIS Hunters, February 7, 2018

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No confirmed images (apart from coalition's strikes), and a number of fakes. 'Photo of 600 Russians killed on Mars'; a video.
Likely locations of US airstrikes Khusham (red and orange)
For further details and discussion, see the talk page. (To see what is hot, see recent changes)

Sources

  • Wikipedia: Battle of Khasham
  • Pro-gov’t ISIS Hunters release official statement after US airstrikes in Deir Ezzor - Leith Aboufadel, AMN, February 11 2018
  • Department Of Defense Press Briefing by Lieutenant General Harrigian via teleconference from Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar (+ brief video excerpt)- February 13, 2018
  • Syrian Army, US-backed Forces Massing Troops In Euphrates Valley – Reports - South Front, February 14, 2018
  • Press Gaggle by Secretary Mattis En Route to Washington, D.C., February 17, 2018
    Oh, on this Deir al-Zour situation, the -- I understand that the Russian government now is saying some of their not military forces, but contractors, were involved in that still unexplained attack on the SDF forces to east of the river. In other words, to east of the deconfliction line, and again, apparently, to the apparent unawareness of the Russian officers that we coordinate with on the deconfliction communication line.
    So it is what it is. I still cannot give you any more information on why they would do this. The -- but they took direction from someone. Was it local direction? Was it from external sources? Don't ask me. I don't know. But I doubt that 257 people all just decided on their individual own selves to suddenly cross the river into enemy territory and start shelling a location and maneuvering tanks against it.
    So whatever happened, we'll try to figure it out. We'll work with, obviously, anyone who can answer that question, but I cannot, at this time.
  • The Truth About the Russian Deaths in Syria , by Christoph Reuter, Spiegel, March 2, 2018
    A team of DER SPIEGEL journalists spent two weeks interviewing both witnesses to, and participants in, the battle. The team also spoke to a staff member at the only hospital in Deir ez-Zor as well as an employee of the local military airport in an attempt to get a clear picture of exactly what took place during the three-day battle. The accounts largely corroborate each other and the image of events that emerges is one that contradicts what has been reported in the Russian and international media.
    • My understanding based on reported interviews with wounded Wagner fighters is that they crossed well in advance (about a week prior, and not mixing up with other battle participants), and that they deployed from Khsham village, with artillery and tank units coming separately from elsewhere. While less trusted social media reports (el Murid) placed Wagners as defenders of a foothold on the East side, among the 400 Spiegel says were allowed. With this, IMO doubts remain on how many Wagners participated, and on their total losses, as a result of Feb. 7 -9 events. Local hospital body count appears to be similar to Chervonets version of events, here and below (whose source gave 23 Wagners killed initially, with more dying few days later from the wounds bringing the count to 42, and estimated number of wounded at 7 dozens. Khrustalik gave a higher number, and those two were in a dispute on social media, but still disagree).--Resup (talk) 09:07, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
  • Pompeo Says 'Couple Hundred' Russians Killed by U.S. Warplanes in Syria in February - The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2018
    The episode took place on Feb. 7 and Feb. 8, when Russian mercenaries mounted an attack using tanks and artillery in an apparent attempt to take an oil-rich area in the eastern Syria province of Deir Ezzour. Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, organized by the U.S. to fight Islamic State, came under fire and American air power was called in.
    The Russian mercenaries were part of private military group known as the Wagner Group, which is run by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    The Kremlin has played down the episode, and the Pentagon has been reluctant to say how many Russians might have been killed and what relation the mercenaries had to the Kremlin. Instead, the Pentagon talked about a clash involving “pro-regime” forces.
    But Mr. Pompeo alluded to it during his confirmation hearing to try to make the point that the Trump administration has maintained a firm policy toward Moscow. “In Syria, a handful of weeks ago, the Russians met their match,” he said.
  • How a 4-Hour Battle Between Russian Mercenaries and U.S. Commandos Unfolded in Syria - Thomas Gibbons-Neff, The New York Times, May 25, 2018
  • About 40 US soldiers held off hundreds of Russian mercenaries in a brutal firefight in Syria - John Haltiwanger, Business Insider, May. 25, 2018

Video

Russian losses

See also discussion; PMC Wagner. Coalition estimate of total pro-Assad forces losses is 100 killed. First claim of Russian losses is made by Strelkov.

Interviews

  • СОЛДАТСКАЯ ПРАВДА. "ПОСЛЕДНИЙ БОЙ "ЧВК ВАГНЕРА" (Soldier's pravda/truth, the last battle of PMC "Wagner") - Hrustalik, Livejournal, February 14, 2018 - Interview with a participant of the battle on February 7, 2018 near Khsham (audio on YouTube),
    Interview with a Russian who was wounded in the coalition air strike near Khsham on February 7, 2018 (after crossing Euphrates on February 3). He tells that 3 Wagner detachments participated (normally 350 men each, but estimate for this battle is less, with some 700 in total). One of detachments, 'Karpaty', formerly 'Vesna', from L/DPR. There could be some Syrians but he was not in contact with any. All their radio conversations were in Russian (so he believes it is unlikely that it's not known who they were). They could be under Syrian flags (he mentions they were given flags, but unclear whether in this battle or at some time previously).
Interview with the widow and the ataman of one of three killed Cossacks from Asbest, Stanislaw Matwejew (German transcription). Second name Igor Kossoturow, third not yet known. No military background, volunteered in Donbass in 2015/2016, then returned and later went to Syria, liberated oil fields from ISIS when it happened (say the people at home), all information about their deaths and circumstances comes through contacts in Donbass. German translation seems to be only partial, so maybe more interesting info in the original. -- CE (talk) 16:55, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
Stanislav Matveev, Igor Kosoturov. Deaths, confirmed by a local MP, are among those five confirmed quickly (entered in discussion session). Stanislav's widow was interviewed, shown a videogame video, we link it on top of the page. Ataman says that in the first day he had information that 30 were killed, by 11 of February it was said that 217 were killed (this number is the same Khrustalik gives for losses of the 5th squad). But among those he knew, it was those two and one more man being verified. He was told that (those) bodies were already delivered to St. Petersburg. He believes that they first met/were recruited by Wagner people while training in Rostov. (Wagner training base is said to be Mol'kino, further south near Krasnodar). He does not know about financial/insurance part of this work. He first says that they were guarding a plant, and later that they were liberating plants, which were then handled to Syrians to guard--Resup (talk) 18:21, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Oleg Tsarev via Rusvesna, February 17, 2018
    I have lost friends in Syria. I did not want to write about it. There is a war, and I am sure that now there is a war against Russia on all fronts, and during the war it is necessary to talk carefully about the losses. For the same reason, I will not say (no need to ask) how many of them died in that battle. I will not talk about it, and not because I do not know.
  • "В выходные похоронили 15-го". Знакомые бойцов "ЧВК Вагнера" – об их гибели в Сирии ("On the weekend the 15th was buried" Acquaintances of "PMC Wagner" fighters - about their deaths in Syria), Radio Freedom, February 19, 2018
    Interview with Yevgeny Shabayev, ataman of the Khovrino Cossack society, who personally saw in Khimki hospital eight men wounded in a battle near the village of Khsham, near the town of Deir ez-Zor,including his wounded friend.
    When 550 people are in a desert at night under fire, not many will survive. According to him(a friend) about two hundred people came alive and unharmed; what is the condition of the remaining ones - he can not say, but it was extremely difficult to survive there. For one simple reason: Helicopter escort, the so-called evacuation, never came, since the "Wagner PMC" does not have these helicopters. Proceeding from all this we can conclude about the dead. Zhirinovsky argues that more than 300 people, Viktor Alksnis says that 334. I believe that they are close to the truth. I have information from different sources and from different regions. So, last weekend, the 15th of those who died under that shelling was buried.
    (Interview was discussed in Russian sources, in particular the fact that it appeared on Radio Freedom was criticized, this video with Putin characterizing Radio Freedom as an arm of US services recalled).
  • Что произошло на левом берегу Евфрата (what happened on the left bank of the Euphrates), interview with Alexander Borodai, now leader of the (semi-official ) 'Union of Volunteers of Donbass', March 1, 2018
    • Borodai would not give the number of killed, but states that 'he understand perfectly' that it is much higher than Zakhraova or Troshev numbers (5 and 14, respectively). There is quite large number of people missing. The attack was aimed to capture an oil processing plant, owned by an Arab clan/tribe involved in oil trade, on a scale of 40 mln USD per week. That clan had relations with everybody else, and in particular was supported by the US, and located in their de-escalation zone. Borodai avoids giving specific details due to his semi-official role, 'corporate ethics', and the on-going war.
    • Borodai was Strelkov friend in the past, but they had a bitter split later. Borodai role is essentially semi-official public relations, supporting official versions of events, but his base consists of Donbass volunteers who are very disturbed by those events, and he needs to take this into consideration too.

February 10th attack

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

Analysis

See also discussion of analysis.

What happened?

Putin's orders?