Report: Hundreds of Russian Syria Deaths Remain ‘a Mystery’ After February U.S. Clash

In a four-hour February battle by a small U.S. military outpost in Syria, about 500 “pro-Syrian government forces—including Russian mercenaries” fought 40 special ops forces, despite U.S. officers calling their Russian counterparts and “urg[ing] them to stop the attack,” The New York Times reports. The Feb. 7 attack, which occurred near a Conoco gas plant close to Deir al-Zour, killed “200 to 300” pro-Assad forces, and no U.S. forces were harmed, the Times reported, citing interviews and documents it obtained. After U.S. forces called the Russians, they fired warning shots toward the amassing troops, who were a mixture of private Wagner Group mercenaries and Syrian forces. The troops still advanced on the U.S. personnel, leading to heavy casualties on their side. Russian officials have claimed that “several dozen” Russian citizens were killed or hurt in the fight, admitting four deaths. But the number could be hundreds more: A Syrian officer told the Times that about 100 of their soldiers were killed, leaving about 100 to 200 deaths from the fight unclaimed by either side. The use of mercenaries in Syria by Russians has not been fully disclosed by the Russian government.