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Putin Reckoning After Wagner Incident, Wagner in Syria Faces a Choice

After the Wagner incident, Putin began to liquidate.

First of all, the media of several publications owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin ceased to exist. According to reports from several Russian channels, several media outlets controlled by Prigorzhin have begun to be liquidated and their employees dismissed. Meanwhile, Russia has blocked the websites of several Prigozhin-controlled publications. They no longer work on the web.

The second is to clean up Wagner’s troops stationed in Syria, which can be said to be Wagner’s base camp. Now the new policy given by the Russian Ministry of Defense is: Wagner, who is fighting in Syria, faces a choice: either leave Syria permanently, or sign a contract with the Russian army and stay in the country to serve.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin visited Damascus and personally conveyed a message to President Bashar al-Assad that the Wagner faction will no longer operate autonomously in Syria.

According to statistics, there are currently at least 2,000 Wagners left in Syria—most of them are from the former Soviet Union, and some of them are Serbs with combat experience.

Wagner mobilized more than 3,000 Syrians, some of whom continue to serve in the country and some on combat missions in other countries, including Ukraine.

Wagner has been operating in Syria since Russia’s counterterrorism operation began in 2015. For example, Wagner was instrumental in the capture of Aleppo in December 2016 and Palmyra in March 2017. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, at least 1,000 militants of the terrorist group were killed during the ground operation in Palmyra, with Wagner estimating the loss at “dozens”. With the support of the Russian military and Wagner, the Syrian military tracked down the terrorist leader Hassan in the village of Jub Jala. In a special operation, the emir and his men were liquidated in February 2017.

Wagner’s troops are scattered across Syria: there are Wagner’s troops in Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor, Aleppo, Kazakhstan, and even Damascus itself. Wagner’s monthly salary in Syria is estimated to be between $1,200 and $4,000.

Wagner’s forces in Syria are typically tasked with protecting oil, gas and phosphate deposits in the Badiyat Sham desert, including the area on the border with Iraq. Gas fields are located in the Homs region and even near Damascus.

Phosphate deposits are located east of the city of Homs and along the western coast of Syria, and Russian and Serbian companies are investing in the development of these deposits.

Since 2016, a camp has been set up in the village of Salma in Latakia, where Wagner trains Syrian recruits before they are sent to a war zone. Wagner’s other main base is in the small town of Rabia in the coastal province of Latakia.

Wagner’s forces are stationed not only in the desert, but also in the buffer zone in northern Syria, which is jointly controlled by Russian and Turkish forces. One of Wagner’s bases is in the city of Qamishli, considered the self-styled capital of Syrian Kurdistan. Obviously, Wagner’s forces cannot be present here without the consent of the Kurdish authorities.

Russia distanced itself from Wagner’s activities in Syria after battles in Aleppo and Palmyra. In 2018, Wagner’s forces attacked the city of Hasham and the province of Deir ez-Zor, which hosts large oil and gas fields. The Russian side has officially stated that Wagner did not act according to his orders, but acted independently.

Then it was quickly retaliated by the United States. A Wagner force of up to 600 was trying to block the road from the Konico gas field to the Iraqi border. Columns from the Syrian Democratic Forces (armed rebels backed by the U.S. and NATO) were supposed to pass along the road to seize oil wells then controlled by Islamic State militants. On the night of February 7-8, NATO planes attacked Wagner’s road, and the entire column of 600 people was destroyed.

Source : Sina