The participation of our troops in land operations in Syria is one of the most closed topics. The Ministry of Defense initially emphasized that only aviation Aerospace Forces, there was even an official definition of "operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria." Although in the first videos and photographs from the Khmeimim base it was clearly visible that in addition to the aircraft there Tanks, armored personnel carriers and marines. And after some time, from the report of the Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu, it became clear that Russian gunners were also helping the Syrians on the ground.
In 2016, in a speech dedicated to awarding campaigners, Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the Special Operations Forces are working on the ground in Syria. They provided target designation of the Russian military aircraft. In 2016 – 2017, several times there were reports of the death of our soldiers in battle. As the Defense Ministry officially stated, they acted as advisers to the government army.
In the summer of 2016, units of Russian sappers appeared in Syria. Their task was the demining of Palmyra, which had just been repulsed by the militants. Later, the sappers took part in the cleaning of Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor. The military police had previously been present at Hmeimim airbase and at the Navy logistics station in Tartus, but in December last year, an entire EP battalion was deployed to stabilize the liberated areas. Later, additional units of the EaP were transferred here.
At the final stage of the IS defeat, the Russian command sent pontoon units to Syria, which ensured that the Syrian troops quickly crossed the Euphrates near Deir ez-Zor.
But in addition to official messages, various photos and videos with our fighters in Syria were regularly published on the Internet. Moreover, information appeared in local social networks that it was Russian military advisers who became an important element of the victory over the “Islamic State” (banned in our country). The video got the work of our artillery units. And in 2016, foreign journalists were able to photograph some kind of mixed armored group, which included several T-90 and BTR-82. The crews were staffed by Russians.
The Marine - the guarantor of security
The first marines to appear in Syria. These were the military personnel of the 810th brigade of the Black Sea fleet. It was her composition that included the first dead Russian military Alexander Pozynich. He acted as part of a search and rescue squad that rescued the crew of a Su-24 front-line bomber shot down by the Turks.
The task of the Marines was to protect the base and its defense against possible attacks from land. As the experience of the war in Afghanistan has shown, even missiles launched inappropriately can paralyze aviation operations and cause significant damage. 23 June 1988 of the year at the airfield in Kabul, one rocket led to the death of eight Su-25 attack aircraft. Assistance to the Marines was provided by the T-90 tanks: judging by the photographs, the tankers occupied the dominant heights, from where they could cover the approaches to the Hmeimim airbase. Another task was the search and rescue of flight crews.
According to various media resources and social networks, in the winter of 2015 – 2016, units of the 7 airborne assault division and the 34 motorized rifle brigade appeared in Syria. These military units wear mountain rifle consoles, their personnel are trained and specially equipped to conduct combat operations in difficult mountainous terrain, just the kind that surrounds Khmeymim airbase. The mountain shooters appeared in Syria immediately after the death of the Russian Su-24 front-line bomber. Then the possible invasion of the Turkish military was seen as quite possible and in the event of such a development, they would have to go to Hamme along the roads in the mountains.
Apparently, the task of protecting Russian bases in Syria until the withdrawal of troops remained for the Marines. In particular, on December 16, the Russian Defense Ministry issued an official statement that, on instructions from the Supreme Commander, the Russian Defense Minister encouraged the servicemen who provided Vladimir Putin’s visit to Syria on December 8, 11. This, as indicated in the message, the units of the marines, covering the most sabotage areas outside the Hmeimim airbase on land and from the sea.
Russian marines and paratroopers actively participated in escorting columns of humanitarian supplies, guarded by journalists. When performing these tasks, one soldier died, several were injured. They lost one armored car "Tiger", his photos were published by the crew of the TV channel ANNAnews.
"Terminators" and "Sunlight"
Our artillery appeared in Syria almost simultaneously with the aircraft of the VKS. The first photos of the towed howitzer “Msta-B”, as well as loader cars, radio stations and KSHM in the province of Lattakia could be found on the Net in the fall of 2015 of the year. The report of the Russian military department later indicated that a battery from the 120 artillery brigade operated in Syria. The main caliber of this military unit - just 152-mm "Msta-B".
In February, an 2016 artillery unit equipped with towed howitzers hit the lenses of a CNN film crew in the Palmyra area. The four-axle armored KAMAZ-63501 served as gunners, and the gunners were dressed in “hills” and EMP field uniform (uniform camouflage colors). It can be argued with high probability that these were Russian servicemen.
The gunners were covered by a consolidated armored group of several T-90 tanks, as well as BTR-82A armored personnel carriers. Although the journalists were shooting from a sufficiently long distance, the video clearly shows that the crews, like their fellow gunners, are wearing slides and EMP.
Before the first release of Palmyra in the summer of 2016, the consolidated armored group and howitzer crews were taken several more photos and videos.
The next time the Russian gunners lit up in May this year in the Hama area. There also operated a unit equipped with Msta-B. True, this time the gunners did without armored cover.
In the summer of this year, a tank support fighting vehicle, BMPT, was sent to Syria. Judging by the photographs and video, “Terminator” was also managed by Russian servicemen or civilian specialists from Uralvagonzavod. The BMPT acted in the most responsible direction - it supported the Syrian troops moving towards Deir ez-Zor.
It can be concluded that Russian gunners and armored vehicles were a kind of reserve for the commander of our group. They were transferred to the qualitative strengthening of the Syrian troops in the most critical areas.
At the beginning of the operation, the Russian Federation handed over the TOS-1A Solntsepe heavy flame-thrower systems to Damascus. Machines were active in the battles in the north-west of Syria, and then lit up in the Palmyra area. Moreover, the militants reported the destruction of one "Sunpinek". The video of the defeat of a certain rocket launcher with the Kornet anti-tank missile system served as evidence. However, after some time it became known that the RSZO BM-21 “Grad” of the Syrian army was hit by the militants. Later, the Solnticeki paved the way for the troops advancing on Deir ez-Zor. There was information that TOC-1А was transferred to the Syrian side from the reserves of the RF Armed Forces. True, later there were reports that the "Suns" still belonged to Russia.
Righteous Chechen trace
Parts and units of the military police appeared in the Russian army relatively recently, and the actions in Syria became their baptism of fire. Deployed in the country back in the 2015 year, they directly guarded the Khmeimim airbase, and later the naval base in Tartus. Marines and paratroopers occupied the outer circle of defense objects, and the police acted inside the perimeter. Red berets patrolled the area, guarded the parking of aircraft and helicopters, served at the checkpoint. Another task for the police was to maintain law and order and military discipline at Russian military facilities.
But in December 2016, several EaP battalions were introduced into Syria, the task of which was to stabilize the situation in the region of Aleppo, Damascus and a number of other settlements. The decision to deploy them was made directly by the Supreme Commander. The units were formed on the basis of the special purpose battalions of the 42 Motorized Rifle Division, 19, and 166 Motorized Rifle Brigades. These BSpN belonged to the so-called ethnic, that is, they were staffed mainly by the military from the North Caucasus - Chechens, Ingushs, Dagestanis. As Vladimir Putin explained at a recent press conference, this choice was not accidental. The servicemen of these battalions are predominantly Sunni — co-religionists for the majority of Syrians. In addition, the units had a solid combat experience. Although in Syria, IDP soldiers only once directly participated in hostilities. In the autumn of this year, a police platoon stopped the breakthrough of Islamists in the province of Hama. Then special forces forces and attack aircraft came to the rescue. The police without a loss out of the environment.
They provided for the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid, the work of Russian doctors, and maintained the rule of law in the liberated territory. They have become the main defense of the Russian reconciliation centers deployed in Syria. We had to act under the strict supervision of foreign media.
Also on the military police were assigned the tasks of combat training of Syrian colleagues. In particular, the Russian red berets taught the wards tactics, conducted classes in fire and physical training.
It was the military unit units that became the first military units of the RF Armed Forces, massively equipped with Typhoon armored vehicles. These cars do not carry weapons - instead flashers and inscriptions "Military Police".
On the Russian engineering troops laid down no less difficult task. In 2015, they carried out a large amount of work on the preparation of the Khmeimim airbase to receive the equipment. The hands of the sappers created a protective perimeter around.
The next task was the clearance of Palmyra, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor. In addition to the soldiers of the International Mine Action Center (IMSC), this work involved fighters from several engineering brigades. They coped with the task, but several servicemen were injured.
Our experts have done a lot of work on the training of Syrian sappers. The IMCM has deployed several training facilities in the country where ATS soldiers trained to clear and remove mines and improvised explosive devices. This year, Russian engineers prepared and fully equipped several Syrian anti-mine forces.
Great work done pontoon units. Last fall, a military fleet was transferred to Syria by military transport aircraft. Having made a march, the sappers on the move launched a crossing over the Euphrates. I had to act under fire - the militants used quadrocopters to strike the pontoon bridge.
Polite and classified
The Russian Special Operations Forces and military advisers became the most important tool for victory over the IS. In many ways, they decided the outcome of the war, but, unfortunately, their activities are classified as “Top Secret” and practically nothing is known about their success to the general public.
The first soldiers of the MTR appeared in Syria even before the official introduction of Russian troops there. It is now known that “polite people” were engaged in guiding aviation to jihadist facilities. Vladimir Putin repeatedly spoke about this. A unique operation was the salvation in 2015 of the navigator of the front bomber shot down by the Turkish Air Force. Then, with the help of local Syrian detachments, the pilot was found and evacuated.
MTR units participated directly in the hostilities. They carried out night raids on objects and control points of militants. Snipers and groups armed with anti-tank missile systems were actively working.
In Syrian social networks, several videos appeared that captured the Russian “polite people”, acting together with detachments of the SAR government forces. In general, as well as military advisers, special forces were maximally involved in ground operations and worked in contact with the Syrian military.
Officially recognized the death of only one fighter of the Special Operations Forces - Alexander Prokhorenko. But various information resources published several investigations on the loss of "polite people" in Syria. How many fighters of the SSO in fact died while fulfilling their official duty while they remain secret information.
Russian military advisers have appeared in Syria since the first day of the operation. These are officers and contractors of motorized rifle, tank, reconnaissance and amphibious units and units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. They were given the task of training the local military. Advisers acted at the headquarters of the brigades, divisions and corps of the armed forces of Syria.
In one of the VGTRK reports, the work of staff advisers in the Deir ez-Zor area was shown in detail. Russian officers were engaged in planning air strikes, transferring the coordinates of objects, assigning a squad of forces, analyzing data from UAVs.
About those who acted directly with the Syrian soldiers on the front line, we know very little. The effectiveness of their work can be judged only by social networks. According to the Syrians, the Russian military not only helped them, but sometimes they also participated in armed clashes.
It was from social networks that the Russian paratrooper was killed in battles in the area of Palmyra. The Ministry of Defense acknowledged several more losses of military advisers. In particular, in September of this year, Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov was killed by mortar shells in the Deir ez-Zor area. A year ago, under Aleppo, Colonel Ruslan Galitsky.
Based on the available information, we can make a very flattering conclusion for our army. We have deployed a small ground grouping in Syria — even with military advisers, the scale of the participation of Russian ground forces is very small. But despite this, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, with minimal losses, managed to solve a large number of tasks. The main forces of the IG defeated, Hamique and Tartus were not subjected to any shelling. Palmyra, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor are cleared of mines, normal life is established in cities.