IS have released a statement claiming to have killed five Russian soldiers in the last two days during battles around Palmyra, Syria. This follows images released on the 17th March 2016 by IS of an alleged Russian soldier killed near Palmyra and equipment the soldier was carrying.
- Official IS statement (17 Mar 2016) – Five military Ross was killed and a number of Shiites Lat party near Palmyra the state of Homs:
If true, these Russian soldiers will likely come under the label of ‘special/military adviser’, similar to labels used by the US and UK to describe special forces operatives working in hostile territory in small numbers.
They will advise as the label describes, both on tactics and weapons use but may also partake in raid or capture operations in support of allied troops or fighters. They may also provide co-ordinates and laser guidance to assist in airstrikes on identified targets on front lines or behind enemy lines.
Contrary to many main stream media news narratives, the Syrian Arab Army and associated militias, some being fundamentalist Shia groups such as Hezbollah, are indeed fighting IS, the latest being the push towards the ancient city of Palmyra.
Palmyra, located in Homs governorate, was captured by IS in 2015, they destroyed a number of ancient artifacts including statues and temples and beheaded Khaled al Asaad, the keeper of Palmyra.
The Syrian Arab Army and associated militias have advanced on Palmyra over the last few weeks with the assistance of Russian airstrikes and both Russian and Iranian ‘special advisers’, they are now allegedly within a few kilometers (5-6) of Palmyra.
UPDATE: 19 March 2016:
IS media arm AMAQ News Agency has released images of alleged Russian soldiers it says were killed by IS West of Palmyra. It also claims to have obtained ‘private photos’ from one of the dead Russian soldiers which can be seen below.
The Bat insignia seen in the third picture down is that of Russian Military Intelligence Agency (GRU).