Syria –-(Ammoland.com)- The Wagner Group (ChVK Vagner), controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin (Russian indicted by Robert Mueller for meddling with U.S. elections in 2016), fielded a 550 man attack force supported by mobile howitzers, rockets, mortars and tanks.
The force included Iranian advisors, pro-Assad Syrians and Russian mercenaries. They attacked a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) base and HQ, where anti-Assad Syrians, Kurdish fighters and U.S. Special Forces defended. The U.S. observed the build-up of Wagner Group’s force for at least a week prior to the attack.
WHEN: During the late night of February 7 2018 and early morning of February 8, 2018, near midnight, the Wagner attack force approached the SDF base and began to shell it with tanks and artillery. The defenders, especially the Americans, were ready for them.
WHERE: The base is near the Tabiyah/Conoco oil fields at Khusham in the Deir al-Zour Province along the Euphrates River in Northeastern Syria. The Wagner group came from the West, crossing the river so that it was behind them.
Russia’s U.S. propaganda news outlet is reporting the attack.
WHAT: The attacking force suffered a “full scale U.S. precision firepower” counter attack that lasted over three hours during the early hours of February 8 2018. Casualties inflicted included over 100 killed and more than 200 wounded out of the 550 man force. One SDF member was wounded and the U.S. had no casualties.
HOW: The U.S., fully prepared because of the observation of the Wagner Group’s attack preparations, responded with overwhelming force. The Russian made T-55 and T-72 tanks, vehicles and equipment were destroyed by a combination of air power and artillery.
B-52 bombers, AC-130 Spectre gunships, F-15E Strike Eagles and F-22 Raptors participated. Many of the bombs and missiles were “precision guided munitions” (PGMS). U.S. Marine Corps artillery units also fired on the force, using the new M777-A2 155 mm Light Howitzers. AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships and MQ-9 Reaper drones, again with PGMs, mopped up any final resistance before the remnants of the force were allowed to retreat.
WHY: Speculation about the reason for the attack includes the desire of the Assad regime to take over the Conoco oil fields. Other believe it was an effort to drive U.S. Special Forces out of Syria. The school shooting in Florida has overshadowed news about the fight between the Wagner Group and U.S. backed SDF but with over 300 casualties, many of them Russian.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that the United States is still investigating who directed an attack on a base housing U.S.-backed opposition forces and U.S. military advisers in Syria earlier this month.
SOURCES: The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNN, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, National Public Radio, The New York Times and New York Daily News.
Author: Lenden A. Eakin