Yesterday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he personally ordered the entire annihilation of Russian mercenaries in Syria. Apparently, he ordered the precision attack once he found out these mercenaries were not part of the Russian military.
Mattis, who is also known as “Mad Dog,” revealed that the military used a de-confliction line with Russia to ensure that forces with which they were engaged in conflict weren’t part of the Russian military. Obviously, these people do not understand how stupid it is to mess with Mattis.
Once he received confirmation from this country, Mattis ordered the U.S. military forces to annihilate the Russian mercenaries.
Mattis explained that the Russian high command in Syria assured the U.S. military that “it was not their people.” After that, Mattis pointed out that his direction to the chairman was for the force “to be annihilated. And it was.”
The Secretary of Defense added that he couldn’t attribute responsibility for who was the real player behind the Russian mercenaries to the Kremlin at this point, noting that there are multiple forces involved in the operations in Syria.
Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he simply cannot target the responsibility to the Russians at this moment. Moreover, he explained that the situation in Syria represents a crowded battlefield where the Iranians and the Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces also have a major role.
One of the Senators who was pushing Mattis to provide the most detailed information about what took place during that controversial operation was Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
In one moment, Fischer asked Mattis if the Russian forces are actively harassing the American forces in that country.
In addition, he asked what he believes would the most appropriate response if he agrees that the Russians are indeed making those moves.
After saying that he cannot target the responsibility to the Kremlin, he explained the U.S. forces in Syria have an odd “and somewhat open,” and never interrupted deconfliction communication line that has worked in a really efficient way to make certain that the American troops don’t run afoul of one another’s forces or one another’s operations.
The Secretary of State also said that far from being coordinated, they are actually deconflicted in either time or space.
Mattis emphasized it as mostly in space, pointing out how the Euphrates River divides the U.S. and Russian activities in several cases.
Soon after Mattis said that, Fischer asked if he used that deconflicted line communication with the Russians when it was reported two months ago that there were large numbers of Russian irregular forces that had attacked U.S. forces.
Mattis responded that it was used. Moreover, he explained that the Russian High Command in the country assured him that it wasn’t their people the faction that made that move.
According to some experts, this situation doesn’t represent a picayune matter, given the fact that this incident had the potential to start a shooting war between Russia and the United States.
Given this issue, to know who was the figure that ordered the strike and how it was accomplished represent a very significant element
These experts believe that while it’s been a few weeks since the strike and no further escalation has resulted, the SASC needs to keep a close eye on these matters, especially in Syria, where so many players are present on the battlefield in ever-changing configurations.
Naturally, the fact that Mattis declined to put the onus on Russia for the mercenary unit’s activities clearly show that he also has concerns about unnecessary escalations.
According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, while the new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress two weeks ago that most of the mercenaries who got killed by the U.S. strike were from Russia, most of them were allegedly among native militias.
Apparently, the actual number of Russian casualties may have been as low as nine, despite the fact that Pompeo informed it was actually a couple hundred.
While some analysts believe that Pompeo’s testimony contradicts the newspaper’s claim that the allegation of massive Russian casualties was just a product of online speculation instead of hard reporting on the ground, the Der Spiegel report fits with the Secretary of Defense’s description of the Russian response during the deconfliction efforts.
Basically, it seems extremely unlikely that a Russian mercenary force of that incredible size would operate on a complicated battlefield without any kind of direction or coordination with Russian command.