by WorldTribune Staff, May 27, 2018
A force of about 40 U.S. commandos held off about 500 troops loyal to Syria’s government, including Russian mercenaries, during a firefight in February, a report said.
While the U.S. troops suffered no casualties, hundreds of Assad regime-aligned fighters were killed, according to the May 24 report by The New York Times.
The firefight, which lasted four hours, took place at an outpost next to a Conoco gas station in eastern Syria on Feb. 7. By the end, 200 to 300 pro-Assad forces had been killed, the report said.
Most of the forces the U.S. troops battled were mercenaries thought to be linked to the Russian paramilitary organization known as the Wagner Group, The Times reported.
“The Russian high command in Syria assured us it was not their people,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators in April. Mattis said he then directed Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the pro-Syrian-government force to be “annihilated.”
“And it was,” Mattis added.
According to the Times report, the U.S. outpost was guarded by about 30 Delta Force soldiers and rangers from the Joint Special Operations Command, but a team of Marines and Green Berets eventually came to their aid as well. A small number of Kurdish and Arab forces, allied with the U.S., were also there.
The pro-Assad force included Russian-made tanks and armored vehicles. During the attack, the U.S. commandos faced a mixture of tank fire, large artillery, and mortar rounds, according to the Times.
Coming to the assistance of the U.S. forces were Reaper drones, F-22 stealth fighter jets, F-15E strike fighters, B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships, and AH-64 Apache helicopters, which devastated the pro-Assad forces from the air, the report said.