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Syria conducts joint operation with Russia to take control of local Wagnerites

Friday, 7 July 2023, 23:56
Syria conducts joint operation with Russia to take control of local Wagnerites

At the beginning of Yevgeny Prigozhin's mutiny in Russia, his mercenaries in Syria were disconnected from communications and offered the opportunity to sign a contract with Russia's Ministry of Defene, with a lower salary. These actions were coordinated between Syrian forces and Russian representatives.

Source: Reuters

Quote: "As Wagner mercenaries advanced on Moscow in an attempted mutiny in late June, authorities in Syria and Russian military commanders there took a series of swift measures against local Wagner operatives to prevent the uprising from spreading, according to six sources familiar with the matter.

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The previously unreported crackdown included blocking phone lines, summoning around a dozen Wagner commanders to a Russian military base, and ordering mercenary fighters to sign new contracts with the Russian defence ministry or promptly leave Syria, according to the sources, which include Syrian security officials, sources based near deployed Russian forces, and regional officials."

Details: The sources refused to be identified to avoid divulging classified military information.

The Syrian government, the Russian Defence Ministry and the Wagner Group in Russia did not respond to requests for comment. Damascus did not publicly comment on the mutiny of the Wagner fighters either.

However, a senior Syrian Republican Guard and a Syrian source briefed on the development said that senior Syrian military and intelligence officials have expressed concern in private conversations that the mutiny could undermine the Russian military presence they have long relied on and that it could lead to the outbreak of hostilities.

Reportedly, the mercenary group's presence in Syria is relatively small at between 250 and 450 personnel. There are no official figures on their staffing.

A local military source near Damascus and two Syrian sources with knowledge of the events, who did not provide further information, said that after Prigozhin announced his uprising, a group of Russian military officers was swiftly sent to Syria to assist in taking control of the Wagnerites there.

To prevent the Wagnerite forces deployed beyond Russia from communicating with one another, with Wagner in Russia, or even with family members back home, Syria's military intelligence severed landlines and internet links from regions where they were stationed overnight on Friday, 23 June, the three individuals reported.

The sources say that by the morning of Saturday 24 June, Syrian military intelligence and Russian defence officials were coordinating closely to isolate and control Wagner fighters.

Around a dozen Wagner officers deployed in Syria's central province of Homs and other areas were summoned to Russia's operational base at Hmeimim in the western province of Latakia. This occurred "in the early hours of the mutiny."

The media was unable to find out what happened to them.

By 24 June, Wagner fighters in Syria were asked to sign new contracts, under which they report directly to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Sources state that their salaries were also cut.

Those who refused these conditions were taken away by Russian IL cargo planes in the following days. According to the sources, there were "several dozen" of them, which surprised Syrian officials, who expected that more of the Wagnerites would refuse and go into exile.

Between 25 and 27 June, Flightradar24 flight tracking data confirmed at least three flights performed by a Russian aircraft. The agency could not determine whether company personnel were on board those planes.

Reminder: Russia has been trying to persuade countries in Africa and the Middle East that after the mutiny, the Kremlin will be able to take the Wagnerites deployed in these continents under control. 

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