Recordings have emerged in which Russian mercenaries subjected to a joint U.S. strike that killed dozens of their comrades describe the incident as "a total fuckup."
Polygraph.info, a Voice of America project, published three recordings, which it received from a source close to the Kremlin. The source said that the recorded phone calls were made by personnel from CHVK Wagner, a Russian private military company.
The incident in question occurred on the night of February 7 and early morning of February 8, when Syrian government forces—backed by Russian mercenaries employed by CHVK Wagner—attempted to capture an oil refinery near the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. After Russian personnel came into contact with American troops stationed there, the U.S. forces responded with artillery and airstrikes.
Polygraph.info transcribed and translated the conversations recorded.
In the first audio clip, a man says, "One squadron fucking lost 200 people...right away, another one lost 10 people…and I don't know about the third squadron but it got torn up pretty badly, too.... So three squadrons took a beating."
The man explains that American forces used artillery and helicopter gunships to repel the assault. "They were all shelling the holy fuck out of it, and our guys didn't have anything besides the assault rifles…. Nothing at all, I'm not even talking about shoulder-fired SAMs or anything like that…. They tore us to pieces, put us through hell," he says.
The speaker is also critical of the Russian government's response to the incident, saying, "They beat our asses like we were little pieces of shit...but our fucking government will go in reverse now, and nobody will respond or anything and nobody will punish anyone for this."
"My guys just called me, they are sitting there drinking, many are MIA, it's a total fuckup, another humiliation.... Nobody gives a fuck about us."
In a second clip, a man explains that the battle quickly descended into a massacre as the Russians lost all armored support. "Out of all vehicles only one tank survived and one BRDM (Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle) after the attack, all other BRDMs and tanks were destroyed in the first minutes of the fight, right away."
In the third clip, a man can be heard explaining the Russian convoy was a few hundred meters away from target when the American forces raised their flag and hit the Russians with a heavy artillery barrage, wiping out the first column instantly. "We got our fucking asses beat rough, the Yankees made their point," he said. "What were they hoping for, that the Yankees are just going to fuck off?... It's bullshit, some people can't even be fucking ID'ed, too many people there."
In another of the clips, a man claims, "There are about 215 fucking killed" on the Russian side.
It has been reported that up to 300 Russians may have died in the strikes. The Kremlin initially denied all reports of Russians being involved in the incident. However, in recent days, Russia's foreign ministry has acknowledged that "several dozen" Russians were killed or wounded.
A foreign ministry report said, "Russian service members did not take part in any capacity, and Russian military equipment was not used." It said those involved were "Russian citizens" who were in Syria "of their own free will and for different reasons."