Saturday, 29 August 2015

New evidence proves Russian military directly engaging in Syrian Civil War

The regime's offensive in the Lattakia Governorate continues to reveal previously unknown details about Russia's involvement in the Syrian Civil War. Apart from the sighting of recently delivered Russian BTR-82A infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), new evidence now confirmes Russian military personnel has a key role in leading the offensive on the ground.

Sound fragments heard in a news report from the Media Wing of the National Defence Force (NDF) covering the offensive in Lattakia, which was also the first to reveal the presence of BTR-82As in Syria, confirm earlier accounts of Russian military personnel being sent to Lattakia in support of the ongoing regime operations in this area. Together with the Syrian Arab Army (SyAA) and the recently arrived Republican Guard, the NDF launched a new offensive aimed at recapturing territory previously lost to the rebels in North-Eastern Lattakia. If it proves successful, the offensive will greatly enhance the regime's control over its currently endangered heartland, and provide a serious blow to rebel forces.

The conversation is difficult to hear due to the booming noise coming from the BTR-82A's 30mm 2A72 autocannon, yet certain phrases can be made out, including calls to resume fire support and at some point "Павлин, павлин, мы выходим", which translates to "Peacock, Peacock, we are moving out" (Peacock presumably being a callsign).

A translation from 2:03 to 2:30 of the video is provided below:

2:03: ''Давай!'' - Give me/Come on!

2:06: ''Бросай!'' - Throw!

2:10: "Ещё раз! Ещё давай!'' - Once again! Do it again!

2:30: "Павлин, павлин, мы выходим" - Peacock, Peacock [callsign], we are moving out.

Although only little of the conversation is heard, it appears to be directed at the crew of the BTR-82A, implicating the vehicle was in fact operated by Russian military personnel. However, when the subject of Russian personnel being sent to Syria was raised on the 4th of August to Vladimir Putin's press secretary, following comments made by the head of Russia's Airborne Troops, he reportedly denied requests of such nature had been made by the Syrian regime.



Interestingly, this is not the first indication of Russian ground involvement in the Syrian Civil War this month. The news website Souria Net reported on the 12th of August that Russian military personnel was dispatched to the village of Slanfah (some 30 kilometres East of Lattakia) to defend against the rebels' advance on the primarily Alawite ground.

Consequently, the pro-regime newspaper al-Watan ("The Homeland") published an article on the 26th of August claiming Russia is expanding its presence in Syria by constructing a new military base in Jablah, a coastal city in the Lattakia Governorate some 25 kilometres South of Lattakia itself. The same article mentions a variety of rumours and conspiracy theories regarding Western and Russian meddling in the Syrian Civil War including the much-publicised but ultimately false story of the delivery of six Russian MiG-31 interceptors last month, as well as the supposed start of handing satellite imagery to pro-regime forces by Russia. Although no evidence towards the the provision of satellite imagery has been found before, it is known that Russia supported the Syrian regime both prior to and during the Civil War with signals intelligence (SIGINT) through its Center-S, S-2 and (presumably) S-3 intelligence gathering facilities, the first of which was captured on the 5th of October 2014.

The news also coincides with an upsurge of sightings of Russian-made drones in Syrian skies, further indicating the initiation of novel intelligence programmes in recent months.

While the fact that Russian military contractors have operated in Syria before might lead one to argue the conversation in Russian might not have been made by Russian military personnel, it should be noted that the probability of such contractors operating an advanced weapons system like the BTR-82A are very slim. Additionally, the Russian government actually forbids the deployment of contractors in Syria, and the FSB detained the leadership of the so-called Slavonic Corps upon return to Russia (which was in October 2013). Of course, the statements made by Syrian media corroborate the notion of Russian enlisted personel in Syria, further undermining any arguments that could be made towards the theory that the exchange in the video was made by private military contractors.

Obviously, this evidence of secretive Russian military involvement in Syria does not represent an isolated occurance: much-publicised reports of Russian military personnel operating in the Ukraine and years of unabating (even increasing) support to the Syrian regime serve as a testament to Russia's dedication towards protecting its foreign interests, even if this means getting directly entangled in open conflict. The fact that such a stealthy intervention now appears to be occurring once again increases the uncertainty of Syria's future, and may spell the onset of much wider Russian participation in a war that nears its half-decade mark.

Special thanks to PFC_Joker.

23 comments:

  1. 2:06: "Бросай!" [Throw !]

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  2. Slanfah is the location of an important Iranian SIGINT base, which would be connected to the report of Russian military personnel there.

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  3. Considering the generally poor quality of military human resources (MHRs) on all sides in this conflict, it is quite amazing that infusion of presumably better quality human resources in the form of Russian troops has not reversed the fortunes of the regime in that rebel-held part of Lattakia, among most other fronts. Which leads us back to the question about whether rebel military incompetence (to speak nothing of d SAA), is really as bad as it seems. We have all seen umpteen videos of rebel soldiers from all of the rebel groups showing absolutely no evidence of basic marksmanship skills, poor tactical movements, "spraying & praying" with assault rifles, among many others.

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    1. "... it is quite amazing that infusion of presumably better quality human resources in the form of Russian troops has not reversed the fortunes of the regime in that rebel-held part of Lattakia"

      Patience. The party is just getting started...

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  4. There are so many foreign fighters engaged in this conflict, it's not quite accurate to refer to it as a civil war. Syrian conflict might be more appropriate, in my opinion.

    Interesting to see Russian direct involvement, now in addition to American, Gulf Arab states, etc.

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  5. A few months ago we saw the offensive of the Jaish al-Fatah coalition - fueled by massive support from Turkey and the Gulf States. It was to be expected that in a reaction the supporters of Assad would increase their support too.

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  6. "Павлин" is just a name of a person.

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  7. The Russians will be humiliated with Basshar in Syria like they were in Afghanistan, they are no less evil than Basshar of Syria.

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  8. The "eshche eshche!" ("more! more!") sounds very distinct and this is unmistakeably Russian as other languages don't have anything like that word or sound.

    "Pavlin" as such isn't a name of a person (the first name would be Pavel and a last name "Pavlin" would be quite unusual). "Pavlin" is the possessive for "Pavel" meaning they could be referring to something a guy named Pavel owned. But the repetition sounds like it means "peacock" here, which is also "Pavlin" in Russian.

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    1. "Pavlin" is a very common street teenage nickname for a person named Pavel in Russian Russia (barely used among Russian speaking Ukranians, Belarusians, maybe, some use in Baltic Russian enclaves).

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  9. Russian crews operating more complex vehicles purchased by Syria, sounds totally plausible. Wasn't this the case with the UR-77?

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  10. sorry for offtopic question but could you say what is the current situation in Syria, SAA is struggling a lot to clear Zabadani and has launched some failed attempts to liberate Palmyra, what is the situation on other fronts?

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    1. Well the regime is spread immensely thin and is fighting over many different fronts. As you can see in Zabadani a cease-fire was agreed to, possibly indicating the SAA needs assets used there elsewhere. Finding out what is actually going on in places like Palmyra can be rather hard. Many times Oryx will present information which has either been scoured from around the internet via video, or from reliable sources close to the war. I cannot translate Arabic which also doesn't help either. It is hard to understand what is going on there, I would suggest checking pro-government social media channels.

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    2. A slow but potentially successful offensive in Latakia, a "tug of war" tactic in al-ghap plains.

      Regarding Homs governatorate, we've to see if they will attempt a push toward Palmyra (they're few Km away from the suburbs). Or if they will chose to attempt a counter-offensive at Qaryatayn: the latter could be more strategical important (to better secure the Damascus-Homs lines), rather than retaking Palmyra (mostly from propaganda reasons).

      Generally speaking they're more on the offensive in the south: even if rebels/western source downplayed it, the offensive in Qunetria was of very big importance for Assad and Hezbollah, for two reasons.
      1) providing more vital space for Hezbollah operations between the two countries
      2) keep secure the link Damascus-Homs secured (something of vital, to keep continuity between the north and the south of the country).

      At the moment we can expect an effort to win in Zabadani, and then to clean the other rebels-controlled area close it (like Madaya), but this task will probably take other months of fighting.

      Recently however there are multiple reports of small offensive (successful) into the eastern area of Daraa (north of Izra), close Suwayda. The rebels are closed into a sack there,

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  11. One of the main pro-gov. sources (and for some strategic analysts better than SOHR) confirmed today presence of Russian advisors.
    http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-sources-deny-russias-military-intervention-inside-syria/

    "Furthermore, a source from the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) – that is currently stationed in Latakia – also denied the arrival of the Russian Air Force; however, he did confirm the presence of Russian and Iranian military advisors inside this coastal city, but he could not give details regarding their visit to Syria."


    Their limited involvment in fight, especially to use/test/coordinate newly arrived weapons like BTR-82 seems fitting with this revelation. Obviously this doesn't mean they have a mass involvment of soldiers, but it could cause a small political uproar if the rebels manage to capture alive one or more of these advisors.

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  12. It was reported in the Russian media since, like, 2005, that there are VOLUNTEERS from Russia and ex-Soviet states, mainly radical leftists, who fight in Middle Eastern wars for a rather simple reason "to kill yankees". These people, reportedly, fight for their ideals of antiglobalism and receive no distinct salaries, if only soldiers' wages to buy food and water. It also was reported that there was a small number of ex-military middle aged people who simply do not know what else to do in life but to fight, and who were unemployed in their native countries. What I'm saying is, that this is no news anyhow that there are Russians fighting in Syria. Of course there are, and there were, since the very beginning of the whole story in 2011.

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    1. agree, we've seen many videos from Syria of people speaking Russian. We had a video of Chechens in I believe 2014 speaking fluent Russian for the whole duration of a video.

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  13. Hello
    Nice topic as always, there is photos in social media about new SU-34 and SU-27 and MiG-29 and Pchela t1 UAV flying over Idleb . And new Russian bridgehead to Damascus with daily 45 tons of cargo carried by Il-76 ( before it was weekly trips )

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  14. How do you stop an army, any army, simple kill their logistics supply line. Now Assad's SAA can't do this to the myriad opposition's Saudi funded supply lines because they come out of Turkey and Jordan, and are thus protected by those states. Syria and Turkey had some air to air/SAM jostling early on and it is too costly for Syria to get into open war with Turkey.
    But Russia is potential game changer - Russian flanker sorties up to border will not be attacked by Turkey (NATO) guaranteed. Those flankers can hit opposition supply convoys (which are actually pretty big - as filmed by German television crossing Turkish border) if they call them ISIS supply lines and the west can't say squat about it.

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  15. Russian advisers have been in Syria for decades. Spetsnaz is a given - esp now that the Russians announced the use of special forces.

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  16. I am very pleased to see this post.

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