How did US Special Forces defeat Wagner Group in the Battle of Kasham?
The Syrian civil war has been a complex and bloody conflict for years, with two global powers backing different factions. On one side, there is the US and its allies, who support the Syrian Democratic forces, a coalition of rebels who want to topple the regime of Bashar-al Assad and hold him accountable for his atrocities. On the other side, there is Russia and its allies, who support Assad’s dictatorship, mainly because Assad grants them access to the Mediterranean Sea through leased naval bases on Syria’s coast. The chance to commit horrific war crimes is just an added bonus for Russian troops. In this chaotic story, a fierce battle took place between 500 pro-Assad forces led by Wagner PMC fighters, a Russian private military company, and 40 American special forces and some of their Syrian rebel allies. It was a battle that could have been a disaster for America’s most elite warriors, but instead, it turned out to be a crushing defeat for the pro-Assad forces. And the surprising reason for this outcome is… Russia itself? 🔥❗🏴☠️
40 US Troops Annihilate 500 Syrian Fighters: The Battle of Khasham Dissected
In early 2018, a minor skirmish in the Syrian civil war saw just 40 US special forces troops and their Kurdish and Arab allies completely decimate an attacking force of over 500 pro-government fighters. This little-known battle provided a sobering demonstration of the awe-inspiring firepower the US military can unleash from the skies at a moment's notice.
This story will recount the Battle of Khasham blow-by-blow while analyzing how the US obliterated a much larger force. America's unmatched global strike capability and process of inter-service coordination will be spotlighted. We'll also examine Russia's calculus in failing to intervene against the US counter-attack.
The Syrian Civil War - Russia and the US Support Opposing Sides
The complex Syrian civil war has raged since 2011, with the US and Russia supporting different factions vying for control. The US has armed and assisted anti-government Syrian rebel groups seeking to overthrow dictator Bashar al-Assad. Russia has propped up the Assad regime with weapons and manpower to maintain influence in the region.
After US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters captured the city of Raqqa from ISIS in 2017, the Euphrates River became an informal border between the two sides. The US and Russia even established a deconfliction line to prevent accidental conflict between their forces.
The Shadowy Wagner Group - Russia's Mercenary Ground Forces
Russia's primary proxy ground force in Syria is the infamous Wagner Group private military company (PMC). This shadowy mercenary outfit carries out Russian state interests while providing plausible deniability.
Wagner consensus seems to be that the murky PMC works closely with the Russian military and intelligence services. Its cadre of mercenaries consists of Russian military veterans lured by lucrative pay.
In early 2018, Wagner forces were active on the government-controlled side of the Euphrates, seeking to capture oil and gas facilities and consolidate control of the area. This agenda was on a collision course with small US outposts scattered along the unofficial border.
Gathering Forces - Russia Masses For Attack
In the days leading up to February 7, 2018, US intelligence detected a large build-up of pro-government troops massing just across the Euphrates deconfliction line. Communications intercepted between Wagner leaders and Syrian and Kremlin officials revealed plans for an imminent assault.
Up to 500 troops marshaled for attack, mainly Syrian army regulars and militias but stiffened by a significant Russian mercenary contingent. They were equipped with artillery, tanks and armored vehicles.
Just 40 US special operations troops manned a small base near the Conoco gas facility, alongside a handful of Kurdish and Arab allies. The miniscule American force was severely outmatched. Yet the Wagner-led troops were advancing straight for their position.
Under Heavy Fire - The Battle Begins
On the night of February 7, the US base came under intense fire as the 500-strong enemy formation attacked under cover of darkness. Well-aimed tank rounds, mortars and artillery began landing among the Americans.
A reinforcement platoon of US Marines was located at a nearby base but lacked any anti-armor weaponry to counter the enemy's tanks. As fire intensified, American commanders urgently requested Russia to call off the attack. Yet multiple appeals were ignored.
The operation seemed aimed at seizing the gas facility by wiping out the US garrison. But the force had gravely underestimated American firepower about to be unleashed upon them.
Unleashing Hell - Overwhelming US Air Power
With the situation deteriorating rapidly, Secretary of Defense Mattis authorized American commanders to demolish the attacking troops. Within minutes, a staggering array of US air power roared into action despite the presence of Russian forces.
The outmatched US ground troops directed targeting information to circling gunships and aircraft. Jet fighters, bombers, attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships and Reaper drones pounded enemy forces from all directions with withering fire.
Artillery positions were smashed by repeated precision strikes before they could pin down US Marines reinforcing the besieged base. Advancing armor was crippled by volleys of tank-busting missiles and cannon fire. Under this unrelenting assault from above, the already chaotic enemy attack completely fell apart.
Breaking and Running - The Attack Falters
Facing a firestorm of devastation from the skies, the attacking force collapsed into panicked retreat. As American aircraft returned to rearm and refuel, the fleeing troops left behind scores of burning vehicles and artillery pieces obliterated by munitions.
In the ensuing pause, the US Marines reinforced the defenders at the US base. But when American bombers and helicopters returned, the defeated troops opted to abandon the disastrous mission rather than face renewed air strikes.
In the end, not a single US or allied soldier had been killed. Meanwhile, over 100 enemy fighters perished under the punishing bombardment. The lopsided outcome signaled a new dynamic in the Syrian war.
Aftermath - Repercussions and Russian Reaction
In the following weeks, autopsies in Russia confirmed dozens of dead Wagner mercenaries discreetly returning home after the failed attack. Yet the Kremlin implausibly denied any knowledge or involvement in the assault.
The Syrian government claimed as few as 2-3 Russians died as "volunteers." But the heavy presence of Russian contractors among the attacking force was verified by multiple sources. Moscow downplayed its role, but US strikes had bloodied its vaunted mercenary contingent.
Russia declined to leverage its formidable air defense network protecting the area during the battle. Activating long-range surface-to-air missiles could have quickly downed US aircraft, escalating the situation dramatically. The battered survivors limped back under the cover of Russian air defenses standing down.
Dissecting Russia's Calculus - Why No Intervention?
Russia likely withheld its air defenses and direct intervention to avoid uncontrolled escalation with the US over a relatively minor skirmish. Openly committing to the attack's defeat would have forced dangerous retaliation.
Letting the US military crush the assault also gave Russia some measure of deniability about its shadowy involvement. American air strikes rapidly demolished the attackers before their makeup became clearer.
Afterwards, the Kremlin implausibly claimed zero knowledge of the attack and denied any Russian participation. Letting the US military quickly end the lopsided battle supported this narrative.
Russia also seemed to underestimate the overwhelming firepower the US could bring to bear in minutes around virtually any point on the globe. American air combat coordination likely exceeded their expectations.
Moscow perhaps assumed the US would avoid bold escalation in the crowded airspace. But American air superiority and command infrastructure demolished that notion.
Lessons of Khasham - Don't Challenge US Firepower
The Battle of Khasham carried sobering lessons for Russia and any adversary contemplating confronting the US directly. America's globally unmatched ability to orchestrate precise, devastating air campaigns was put on stark display.
The crushing defeat for Russian mercenaries marked the limits of deniable "volunteer" warfare under the nuclear umbrella. And American flexibility to rapidly draw upon the full weight of US air power anywhere was vividly demonstrated.
Most importantly, the lopsided mauling delivered an indelible caution - do not test American combat readiness. The US military stands ready to unleash an apocalypse from above at a moment's notice upon any who dare threaten its forces.
Few fighting forces on earth could annihilate 500 troops without a single casualty. This awesome capability underscores why directly provoking the United States remains the fool's gambit. For any hostile actors watching Khasham's destruction, let its lessons not be forgotten.
- Disclaimer: Images apart from the title image were generated with Bing AI, we always want to entrust our readers are not deceived.
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!