Syrian Spetsnaz: Interview with Russian military veteran in Syria

Posted: October 11, 2012 in Sideviews
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The Russian newspaper has published an interview with a Russian military veteran who works in Syria.

He is working for the Syrian Special Forces as an instructor and has reported about some details of the military operations and the personnel composition of the rebel gangs.

Some details are hard to believe, but the statements seem – also because of the choppy and dry style, that is presumed for a military veteran – very authentic.

The source and author of this translated interview with a Russian military veteran who is working in Syria are at the end of this article. Of course, there is also the source to the German translation of this interview. The translation of this interview starts below.

Russians at the front of the Syrian Civil War

Thousands of members of the Special units of the Syrian Army are currently involved in armed clashes with units of the rebels of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA). In the majority of units on both sides work military instructors from the former Soviet republics who have gained experience in local and international armed conflicts.

For example, a brigade of Special Forces of the Syrian government troops (an analogue of our Spetsnaz GRU) are trained and also instructed by a colonel of the reserve of the USSR Armed Forces. His name is Vitaly, which is all that he is willing to say, there are also no details of his career – out of consideration for his family, who lives in Damascus.

How did you come to Syria?

I graduated from the Military Academy in Novosibirsk, where I have specialized in special reconnaissance missions. After graduation I was ordered to go to Afghanistan, but I have myself made ​​the request for this. Later came Tajikistan, Abkhazia; both times Chechnya.

I commanded a reconnaissance unit in all these places. I have also received state awards. After I went into the reserve, I started to work for Rosoboronexport. I came to Syria as their representative. Then, a job as an instructor for Special Forces units was offered to me. I accepted the offer. My family came then here, too.

Which military potential has the Syrian army?

There is a lot of sloppiness. Only the Special Forces are able to really conduct war. These combat units consist of Alawites and Christians. The latter, there are many. These guys are capable of learning, they orientate well in the field and they work with the latest intelligence-gathering systems. Even the Russian army can only just dream of some of them.

You say, these people are well trained. Why are they so long not able to clean Aleppo finally?

I have personally sent a Chifrogram “to above” two years ago, in which I have reported that armed rebels have started to concentrate in the city. There was no response. In the meantime, the rebel fighters succeeded to build some pretty good fortifications in some urban areas.

The whole town is crisscrossed by a network of tunnels. There is no problem to pass through the houses in order to get to the next street. It was exactly the same situation in Grozny in 1995. Therefore, I have decided for myself to train Special units for missions in urban environments.

This decision was confirmed by President Assad personally. Three months of intensive training in the suburbs of Damascus. At the end of September, we went to work. The situation is currently significantly turning around to our favour.

What is the tactics of your Special units?

According to the commandment of battles, the mechanized units are covered by motorized rifle units. But unlike Grozny, we have the problem here that we have to protect the living space and also to protect the inhabitants of the city.

This eliminates the possible use of artillery fire on the points of fire by the opponent. These were neutralised by our Special Forces. There were still civilians in these areas; we were not allowed to take these places under artillery fire.

One could have well razed the whole city, Assad’s army has this potential, but the council of commanders has decided to use selectively actions. For this reason, the progress is so slow.

Was it different in Grozny?

There, our storm troopers were on route, and as soon as there was only a little resistance, the support by artillery and aircraft was requested. But in Syria, Bashar al-Assad has ordered to protect the civilians.

They also had to deal with enemy mercenaries…

Yes, the training of the rebel forces in urban warfare is carried out by real professionals. Just a few days ago, we have eliminated a position in one of the districts of Aleppo. In the local cadre we have, by the way, also liquidated rebels with European facial features.

There, in their vault, we have found identification documents of Russians, Ukrainians, as well as from people from various Central Asian countries.

In terms of Russia, these passports were issued in the Chechen Rayon Noschaj-Jurtowsk, in Malgobek in Ingushetia, even in Vladikavkaz and Tskhinvali. We made copies of all of them and gave them to our embassy.

Has the opposition a chance?

In purely military means – no way. The Syrian army is gaining experience, and partly thanks to our instructors. The delivery of Russian Air Defense systems will help to seal up the skies over the country.

Did you ever had to handle with your former comrades in the battles?

As the special mission was carried out in Damascus, we have busted a gang. We have occupied a house and found the papers of those killed. A whole lot of Turks. In addition, even the identity card of an officer.

The slain fighter was a colonel in the Ukrainian army. I was able to remember him; he was with me in my platoon at the academy. There, we have also liquidated a captain, who was from Tatarstan. According to his military record, he was a trained sniper.

Source (German):


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