Risking Major Escalation, Trump Weighs Killing Of Russian Fighters In Syria As Sign Of "Tough Stance" Toward Putin

In the aftermath of Robert Mueller's indictment against 13 Russian "operatives" for meddling with the US presidential election, President Trump has been under fire for lashing out at everyone... except Russia. So, in response, Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration is weighing citing the deaths of more than 200 Russian fighters - or rather mercenaries - in Syria, who were killed following US strikes on February 7, as an example of Trump's tough stance toward Russia.

Recall that last week, "more than 200 mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base and refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region" In terms of total body count, the U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured; while Russia admitted that Russians were killed, it said the number was five and denied that the men killed were officially sanctioned Russian troops.

It is this attack that Trump hopes to use as proof of his administration's determination to show a "hard line" stance toward Putin.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made an oblique reference to “an incident” as she argued that President Donald Trump has been tougher on Russia than his predecessor Barack Obama. And, according to Bloomberg, she was alluding to the Syria battle - an episode which as we suggested last week threatened to further deteriorate relations with Moscow, as it would put the onus on Putin to respond to what Trump will deem an official Russian provocation.

“He has done a number of things to put pressure on Russia and to be tough on Russia. Just last week, there was an incident that will be reported in the coming days, and another way that this president was tough on Russia,” Sanders said in a briefing for reporters.

The Bloomberg source adds that "Trump himself would like to publicly make the case that the battle shows his resolve to confront Moscow."

The official recognition of Russian deaths would be direct escalation in the diplomatic crossfire: the U.S. has not previously publicly acknowledged that Russians were among the fighters killed in the Feb. 7 battle.

It goes without saying that Sanders’ characterization of the event as evidence that the president has been “tougher on Russian in the first year than Obama was in eight years combined” would further antagonize the Kremlin.

It’s unclear when the White House learned of the attack or the composition of the Russian forces. And if Trump wanted to show his resolve to confront Russia, there are easier ways: he could enact sanctions Congress has already approved in retaliation for the election meddling or publicly criticize the Russian campaign.

As reported previously, in the February 7 Syria battle, Russian mercenaries and allied units fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad attacked a base held by U.S.-backed forces, mainly Kurds, in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region. According to the Pentagon, after 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed near the Kurds and U.S. soldiers acting as advisers, the U.S. coalition responded with artillery and airstrikes. The result was over 200 Russian mercenaries killed.

U.S. forces used a deconfliction line with the Russian military to inquire whether the attacking force was theirs. White said that U.S. officials “were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the attack.”

What is most notable, however, is that both the Kremlin and the Pentagon have downplayed the incident. Russia’s military said it had nothing to do with the attack and the U.S. accepted the claim. While denying that official Russian troops were present, the Russian Foreign Ministry has acknowledged five Russian deaths in the incident.

Regardless, it was the deadliest clash between citizens of the two countries since the Cold War.

Further complicating matters, the Russian assault on the base in Syria may have been a rogue operation, conducted by the Wagner Group, the Russian equivalent of the US Xi, or Blackwater, a firm owned by a Kremlin-connected businessman named Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The risk is that by elevating the status of Russian mercenaries to state-backed fighters - which would be the only reason why the US action would be indicative of a tough stance toward the Kremlin - Russia will interpret what until now was deemed largely an accident,  albeit the deadliest encounter between the two countries in decades, as an overt act meant to punish Russia by killing its troops - whether legitimate soldiers or mercs - and Putin would have no choice but to respond in kind.

The potential escalation takes place two days after Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, warned the Trump administration on Feb. 19 not to “play with fire” in Syria by supporting the autonomy-seeking Kurds, who have helped the U.S. largely eradicate the Islamic State militant group’s presence in the country.

Comments

Bay Area Guy greenskeeper carl Wed, 02/21/2018 - 15:15 Permalink

I'd also ask why there are US forces in Syria to begin with, given that the government of Syria has never authorized the presence of US trips on Syrian soil.  Imagine the outrage in this country if Syria or Russia or, hell, Iceland, decided to station troops in the United States.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.....the bully does what it wants until someone punches him in the mouth.  The US is almost begging to be punched in the mouth and in the nuts on a daily basis and one of these days, it's going to happen.

In reply to by greenskeeper carl

JohninMK Slippery Slope Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:08 Permalink

The writer quotes 200 as the number dead as if it was fact. It isn't. It is an estimate. So far, a fortnight after the incident, various sources (official Government and Wager their employer) in Moscow and Damascus seem to be settling on 14 dead and 40-50 wounded plus Syrians etc.

That might be a more acceptable figure to the Russians, especially if the fact that they were mercenaries, for Trump to boast about, not that he would have known anything about it as he delegated his operational powers to the DoD.

Expect a counter number from another poster in 3-2-1.

 

In reply to by Slippery Slope

taoJones JohninMK Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:20 Permalink

Good catch... didn't read that far - skipped to the end, and took issue with the claim:

"autonomy-seeking Kurds, who have helped the U.S. largely eradicate the Islamic State militant group’s presence in the country"

Eradicate? Really? No, the SAA & allies did that. The U.S. would never harm their proxy. All they did was fold the ISIS remnants into their other proxy, SDF.

 

In reply to by JohninMK

MK ULTRA Alpha Socratic Dog Wed, 02/21/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

I was thinking last night, I felt betrayed by Putin. I had a desire to kill Russians, I was just thinking about it before I turned on the computer this afternoon, that I wanted to start posting my desire to kill Russians and thought I should write the comment.

We're going to begin killing Russians everywhere. That's what I want, that's what my mind is thinking. And if I'm thinking it, then there are millions of Americans thinking the same time. And what happens, as soon as I check in to ZH, the President is saying we need to kill Russians.

LOL Was there something to all that MK ULTRA CIA mind warfare programming?

In reply to by Socratic Dog

MK ULTRA Alpha Billy the Poet Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:35 Permalink

LOL considering you hang out on a pro-Russian anti-American site visited by anti-American foreigners who've admitted they were foreigners and they post the low rent dirty anti-American comments. After a while, watching the anti-American foreigners come on here saying they want to kill Americans, it gets to the point that I believe and others believe., their purpose is to radicalize an American to stand against his country, just like ISIS did.

So if you hang out here, then there is no way one will be able to tap into the pulse of America. This site and it's foreign posters are slanted and bias to the point it's a fake reality for an American reader. In other words, a fake reality has been created here, for the purpose of radicalizing Americans. Go look up the data from people who've been telling about the posters coming here, the anti-Americanism. Google it, there is a ton of data.

And by the way, would you like to answer the survey of which country are you posting from and how old are you? Half the posters here are anti-American foreigners and most of them are low life lower socioeconomic, not well read, not well educated, just ignorant Euro trash, international communist, and Russian TROLLS.

What country are you from?

In reply to by Billy the Poet

MK ULTRA Alpha Billy the Poet Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:20 Permalink

Death squad?, buddy it is your DNC that has publicly called for a race war to kill off whites. It is the left wing hit squads who are taking out white males nationwide.

And I was talking about the Russians trying to send body bags back to the USA for their Syria policy, but you MUST make it personal to pull me down into your hate rant, hate of America and anyone who loves this country.

That's what a low life you are, and are you a victim because America gives you food stamps, disability etc. then come on here and blame America because you've been conditioned by the MSM and the communist to be a victim.

That's right many of the American posters are claiming victim status and they can't take responsibility so they blame their country and will not do anything to better their situation. And they are easy fodder for the Russian trolls, and anti-American foreigners on this site.

Also, what is real funny, I was reading the list of meme the Russian Trolls repeated over and over, one of the meme comments was used here not more than three weeks ago. It was only that one sentence meme, and nothing else. I've already posted it, but a full discussion on the Wagner owner of both Wagner mercenaries and the Troll farm and being best friend for life with Putin, the left, the posters here and even ZH didn't cover that part and the 13 Russian Troll is now being made into a joke to cover up for Russian when the indictments uncovered Russian operations against the US.

It's time to send body bags to Russian from Syria with love, and what is your definition of a dictator, somone who has been in power for 25 years, in most halls of higher learning that would be the definition of a dictator, but not on ZH and not the pro-Russian anti-American foreigners.

In reply to by Billy the Poet

BigJim Billy the Poet Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:15 Permalink

He's absolutely one of the least convincing trolls we've ever had here, and clearly not a native English speaker. Or, if he is, then he's woefully uneducated.

What's worse is how utterly uninteresting he is. Some of the trolls ZH attracts are funny, at least, or even insightful and challenging. But this guy?

MK Ultra, you're a loser.

In reply to by Billy the Poet

Count Cherep MK ULTRA Alpha Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:56 Permalink

MK ULTRA Alpha: So if you hang out here, then there is no way one will be able to tap into the pulse of America. (etc.)

Count Cherep: I was born and raised in the USA.

I am as American as it gets. Some of my Scots-Irish, Welsh and Dutch ancestors came here a very long time ago. My Apache ancestors have been here for even longer.

Am I somehow "Anti-American" for objecting to the usurpation of my country by Zionist scum?

I adopted the screen name Count Cherep to draw attention to a relatively obscure historical figure, Major General Count Arthur Cherep-Spiridovich who I consider to be worthy of recognition:

http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Cherep-Spiridovich

In addition to the metapedia article cited above, years ago while researching Cherep-Spiridovich I came across a site which was auctioning a letter of his in which he was pleading (in vain) for help to put a stop to the white slave trade of European girls.

MK ULTRA Alpha: And by the way, would you like to answer the survey of which country are you posting from and how old are you? Half the posters here are anti-American foreigners and most of them are low life lower socioeconomic, not well read, not well educated, just ignorant Euro trash, international communist, and Russian TROLLS.

Count Cherep: I have answered, above, most of the questions of your idiotic survey. I am sixty five years old, very well read, self educated (not college educated), not at all ignorant, not a communist of any stripe, admittedly "lower socioeconomic", and nobody's troll.

Edit: From the metapedia site —

Are we going to let our world be destroyed so as not to offend a tiny number of people who accuse us of anti-Semitism to cover up the crimes they are committing against us?

 

In reply to by MK ULTRA Alpha

MK ULTRA Alpha bunkers Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:06 Permalink

IGNORANT LOW LIFE HAVE YOU EVER SLEPT WITH A RUSSIAN WOMAN?

I have, have you ever ate dinner with Russians? I have.

What experience makes you an expert on Russians?

This is the typical low life ignorant comments on the ZH board, a hang out for anti-American foreigners, fringe elements, even a dumpster diver would brag about being a dumpster diver to show how bad American was, he was on food stamps and disability. Most of the American freaks on here are victims of the victim culture, man, they whine and cry they're a victim of America, this gives the foreigners something to justify their hate America rant.

LOL, half of the posters are anti-American foreigners leading the victim culture Americans on here by the nose.

In reply to by bunkers

Moros-is-Here bunkers Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:59 Permalink

Being an old fart, and having seen what Russians do to those who attack them, if Trump is stupid enough to claim the US killed the Russian mercenaries..... expect 100 dead Americans for every dead Russian. Then, if Trump ups the stupid factor and orders the US troops in Syria to go on the offensive against Russian troops, well, I wouldn't want to be on an US Navy destroyer in the Black Sea.....'cause Putin won't hesitate to sink it and tell Washington that Russian ICBMs are on 10 second launch status. Napolean tried to smack the Russian bear in his cave, as did Hitler, and the Mongols, along with many others. All had their figurative heads handed to them on a garbage can lid. You can kick, punch and slash the Russian army til the cows come home, but on their home turf, they are unbeatable.

In reply to by bunkers

HowdyDoody JohninMK Wed, 02/21/2018 - 15:34 Permalink

The PMC outfit is Wagner. The official Russian MoD report refers to dozens of wounded Syrians. The terrorists or their supporters even re-badged a video of the Novorossians wiping out a Ukrop brigade at Ilovaisk as a supposed video of the US attack, claiming the dead Ukrops were Russian military.

https://z5h64q92x9.net/proxy_u/ru-en.en/rusvesna.su/news/1519131751

There is a list of 74 supposed victims. 70% of the names end in "ov", and 30% is divided between "ev" and "in". No names ending in "ko", "ich", "yuk", etc. Among the 74 there are 9 pairs of duplicates and a number of archaic names used by old believers and peasants in the 19th century. Finaly, there is a smattering of Russian author names and so on. Someone has made a poor attempt of making up a list of people supposedly killed.

https://z5h64q92x9.net/proxy_u/ru-en.en/rusvesna.su/news/1518866770

Meanwhile, the US has sent a couple of Arleigh Burke class destroyers into the Black Sea. They are supposedly going to teach the Russians a lesson.

https://z5h64q92x9.net/proxy_u/ru-en.en/rusvesna.su/news/1519164064

 

 

In reply to by JohninMK

MK ULTRA Alpha BarkingCat Wed, 02/21/2018 - 17:54 Permalink

I'm not Russian, and it's true Wagner Group is a mercenary company for the Russian military, and the Wagner owner is also the owner of the troll farm.

It seems the left wing media and ZH don't want to tell it.

Wagner group and the Russian troll farm are both owned by Putin buddy.

Putin has betrayed those who wanted better relations, many can now see, there can be no peace when the Russians did what they have done. I have a desire, a want, to kill Russians.

Let the body bags fill up Moscow, see how big mouth dictator likes that.

Putin has been in power for 25 years, in most halls of higher learning, that's called a dictator. But not on ZH, because it's all anti-American Russian Trolls and foreign anti-American, about half of all comments are foreigners and Russian Trolls.

In reply to by BarkingCat