private91Kiril Avramov
(Post-doctoral fellow at the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas at Austin. He is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Department of Political Science and former Vice-Rector of the New Bulgarian University in Sofia and a former Senior Fulbright Visiting Researcher at CREEES, UT Austin, Texas)

Ruslan Trad
(Freelance journalist and analyst with more than 10 years' experience in covering and analysis of MENA, Balkans, and Turkey regional issues. He is the co-founder of the De Re Militari Journal and the author of The Murder of a Revolution (2017)

Copyright: Publication at RIEAS web site on 19 February 2018.

“Private military companies” have been an essential part of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict since Moscow’s widespread aerial and ground intervention in September 2015.

Even before that intervention, the PMCs were supporting pro-Assad forces on the battlefield. The most notorious is the “Wagner” Group, led by a former lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Spetznaz (Special Forces) Brigade of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). At the height of its deployment, Wagner had more than 2000 personnel on the ground to execute “sensitive operations”, augmenting Russian “advisors” and Assad regime detachments in reconnaissance and assault missions. The mercenaries also provided security for strategic sites and training of regime units. Other PMCs include the “ISIS Hunters” — who reportedly suffered losses when the US carried out airstrikes last week on pro-Assad forces attacking the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria — and the “Turan” battalion. Read more

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