Late on Feb. 7 and early on Feb. 8, U.S. forces in Syria likely killed the greatest number of Russians since the end of the Cold War — more than 200 soldiers. There will, however, be no international repercussions, nor will any of the Russians get posthumous medals like Roman Filipov, the fighter pilot who was shot down over Syria earlier this year and resisted capture until he was forced to blow himself up with a hand grenade.
The reason even the exact number of the dead will never be officially confirmed is that the Russians were mercenaries, not regular troops, and their mission likely had nothing to do with Russia’s geopolitical goals in Syria. They were attempting to take over a refinery in the Al Isba oil and gas field in the oil-rich province of Deir-Ez-Zor, which formerly provided most of ISIS’s oil wealth in Syria. In a statement on the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry called them “Syrian militia members” conducting “an operation against an ISIS sleeper cell.” That makes it likely that they were on a purely commercial mission for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who needs access to the oil so he can rebuild the territories he controls — probably in exchange for a
Article source: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-14/putin-is-struggling-to-keep-his-wars-separate
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