Gear purportedly from a killed Russian soldier at Palmyra
As fighting between the Islamic State and Syrian regime forces continue around the ancient city of Palmyra (or Tadmur in Arabic), the jihadist group’s Aamaq News Agency has claimed that five Russian soldiers were executed in recent days. To prove this, the news outlet has posted photos from one of the slain Russian soldier’s phones. Aamaq News is linked to the Islamic State and often provides reliable information about the group’s local and international operations.
The photos show the soldier posing in various places in Syria, both by himself and with other members of his unit. In a video released earlier today, Aamaq News shows a killed Russian soldier and his gear. The camera then zooms in on the soldier’s equipment, which includes Russian markings. In addition to the five Russians, Aamaq also claims Islamic State fighters executed several members of Hezbollah and “other Shiite militias.”
The Islamic State took full control of the city after a week-long offensive last May. At least 462 civilians, 241 government troops, and 150 Islamic State fighters were killed in the fighting in and around Palmyra over a three week period after May 13, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The jihadist group also took over several nearby towns and the Jazal oil field. [For more on this, see LWJ report, Islamic State seizes Syrian city of Palmyra.]
The Islamic State is not the first jihadist group to claim to have battled Russian troops in Syria. In November, a Chechen al Qaeda-ally, Ajnad Kavkaz, claimed to have captured “spoils” from Russian troops after battles in the northwestern province of Latakia. (See Threat Matrix report, Chechen group says it took ‘spoils’ from Russian forces in Syria.)
Photos allegedly from the slain Russian soldier’s phone: