Did U.S. and Russian Troops Fight Their Bloodiest Battle Since World War I in February?

    Sebastien Roblin

    Security, Middle East

    We break it all down. 

    An earlier article the participating forces and chronology of a battle involving U.S. forces, Syrian militias and Russian mercenaries near Deir e-Zor, Syria in February 2018. This article considers the mystery of which forces were behind the attack, and the extent of the losses they suffered.

    In a violent battle near the Syrian city of Dier ez-Zor the night of February 7–8, U.S. commandos did not suffer any casualties, and only one allied SDF fighter was injured. However, the United States estimated that it had killed at least 20 percent of the attacking force, with casualties numbering between 100 and 300. There is relatively little video or photo documentation of the battle, save for videos of two air strikes, and of Syrian militias recovering bodies after the battle. The Pentagon later alleged the attackers were primarily Wagner mercenaries.

    Damascus announced it forces had suffered fifty-five killed, including ten Russians, one Brig. Gen. Yusuf Aisha Haider, both sons of Sheikh al-Bashir of the Baqir Brigade, and 20–30 members of the ISIS Hunters unit, including Lt. Col Yasser Essa. Damascus’s incredible excuse for the attack was to claim its forces had been investigating ISIS mortar fire from the east river bank when they came under unprovoked fire from the U.S. position. In April, survivors of the ISIS Hunters unit held a ceremony declaring jihad on U.S. forces in Syria.

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