U.S. Strikes and Russian PMC Casualties in Syria – Fact vs Fiction

It’s become common knowledge that a U.S. strike took out an advancing column of Syrian forces on February 7th in defense of SDF positions east of Deir ez-Zor, and more likely to protect U.S. SOF embedded with them. Since then the story of Russian casualties among supporting PMCs (mercenaries belonging to private military companies) has proliferated across the internet and newspaper articles, with many of the facts and figures inaccurate. I’ve seen 100 dead, 200 dead, 600 dead, dozens, hundreds, scores of dead, and so on and so forth. Unfortunately Russian casualties, troops participating in military exercises, or similar such events have a large “applied internet multiplier” whereby they increase several fold depending on the source. By current figures many of those involved in the fighting February 7-8 were killed at least twice, if not multiple times.

Due to a lack of credible information serious newspapers are citing some Russian businessman, a Syrian commander, and all sorts of other conflicting sources. The contradictory stories are reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s famous film Rashomon, where every character has their own often self-serving narrative about the same event. After a journalist called this morning to inquire whether it is true that U.S. airpower took out 20% of Russian ground forces in Syria it seems time for something sensible to be written on the matter. I’m updating this a bit as better information comes out.

Based on the information available at the time I wrote that actual casualties among PMCs in this episode are likely somewhere on the order of 13-15 dead and a relatively equal number wounded. Initial reporting seemed closer to a dozen than dozens. The casualties  from this strike are spread between a Syrian unit known as ISIS Hunters (~20 KIA) and the bulk among SAA units which seemed to include some percentage of local fighters from the area (these numbers might be around 40 or more). There was word of a Syrian brigadier killed as well along with the SAA soldiers. More than likely this was an unit from Syria’s 5th Assault Corps supported by PMCs. The 13-15 PMC casualties are also not all necessarily Russian, but thus far all the confirmed dead are. A good number seem to be Cossacks, and many are fighters who previously were part of separatist formations in the Donbas, either directly on behalf of DNR or under contract as mercs.

I am very biased towards conservative assessments based on the information that can be confirmed, and makes sense, i.e. I prefer starting low and working my way up. In this case it seems that the less probable event was true, the number of Wagner mercenaries killed was much higher than I initially thought.

On Feb 16 I updated the count after more information and some additions from fighting February 10th. The better number increasingly looked like ~40 dead and 70 wounded as in MK article. I’m more inclined towards MK numbers in this graphic than any of the other figures, but it is still too low an estimate. Those are figures for combined casualties, referencing 3 companies of Wagner involved in support of Syrian forces. Of these the number of PMCs killed and wounded is probably more than a dozen but doubtfully exceeds 30-40 (or so I thought). Today the more realistic number is somewhere between 100-200 killed in that engagement.

MK article here: http://www.mk.ru/politics/2018/02/13/pogibli-40-raneny-72-istochnik-v-chvk-vagnera-utochnil-poteri.html

A good source comparison chart to figure out where all these numbers are coming from can be found here: https://chervonec-001.livejournal.com/2227259.html

This is a photo of ISIS Hunters holding a funeral following the strike

ISIS Hunters funeral

The KIA count may go up depending on the fate of the wounded. There is a general assumption based on the evidence that the few PMCs killed belong to Wagner ChVK, as Wagner is the principal mercenary group fighting in support of SAA in Syria. As is often the case, facts point to a much less exciting and sensational story behind the headlines.

According to DoD statements, and those by SecDef Mattis, the attacking force approximated ‘300 pro-regime forces’ in a surprise push towards SDF positions on February 7. Thus, the fantastic figures of hundreds dead, including Igor Girkin’s 644, can be safely thrown out the window. Somewhere on the order of 200 dead is also improbable unless the numbers for those attacking were much higher than being reported by the American side. The U.S. would have to kill literally everyone involved, and that seems quite a reach for typical rules of engagement. But it seems the numbers were somewhere 100-200 after all, that is the reporting from Russia and numerous sources suggest the U.S. intentionally under reported Russian PMC casualties in this fight. Either that, or the additional fighters died from poor morale after seeing the strike.

Later on, DoD statements elaborated that the attack came evening of Feb 7th, and it included a ‘dismounted battalion sized element’ which was turned back. So this is somewhere on the order of 300-500 attacking but they only had contact with a part of the force. The difference in the numbers between Mattis’ initial 300 and LTG Harrigan’s battalion is in the leading half of the battalion, which dismounted (200-300), that U.S. forces struck and most of the casualties were among this element.

Since LTG Harrigan indicated the attack was not unexpected, and they observed the buildup for some time (https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1441080/department-of-defense-press-briefing-by-lieutenant-general-harrigian-via-teleco/), it explains better how so many assets were involved in beating back the assault – MQ-9, F-15E, F-22, even B-52 and AC-130. B-52 in particular would take some time to arrive on station. This suggests the U.S. knew the attack was coming, and they told the Russians they knew, and the action went forward anyway.

This episode appears to have taken place around Al-Tabiyeh east of Deir ez-Zor. Syrian forces began an attack on SDF positions, with armor and artillery. Then U.S. forces made contact with Russian MoD to deconflict, and after being told there were no Russian soldiers there, which by all accounts there were not, they struck the advancing units. So, initially I thought total casualties were probably less than 100 with a approximately 40 SAA, 20 ISIS Hunters, and 13-15 PMC split (although unclear if SAA losses include ISIS Hunters losses in which case it might even more conservative). Now looking back, that was grossly conservative. Somewhere between 100-200 were killed, many of them Wagner fighters, that is more than the 42-70 estimate from the MK story.

The exact reason for why this episode took place is naturally unclear, but it may be connected to the overall friction between Syrian forces wanting to seize energy infrastructure, gas and oil, from SDF forces. The latter took it from ISIS, and of course need the resources, just as the Syrian regime needs the money to sustain a rump state. There are also Russian interests there looming in the background, among people interested in contracts handling Syrian energy extraction post-conflict, and hoping that PMCs can secure potential energy cash cows. This episode may be due to poor coordination, deliberate probing, or as often happens in war – a confluence of events yields compound risk as mistakes and misjudgments stack.

From higher altitude, the U.S. has a strategy to maintain presence in Syria via SDF, and Russia has a strategy to make the regime as viable as possible financially, while pushing U.S. proxies further east. Astride the war between Turkey and Kurds playing out in Afrin, the war between Israel and U.S. vs Iranian presence in the south, this is technically Syria’s war #3 which involves Russian forces backing SAA to retake more of Idlib and gain ground east of Deir ez-Zor.

P.S. Behind this tale is another looming story about some Syrian T-72 that was taken out by a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone in defense of SDF positions and embedded U.S. advisers (internet can’t decide if its Russian or Soviet made). Actually on the video available it first looked more like a T-90, supplied by Russia to Syria’s 5th Assault Corps. There is an object right of the gun that looks like a Shtora system than IR illuminator from T-72BA – but this was not the case. https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/02/13/us-mq-9-reaper-takes-out-russian-t-72-tank-syria.html (I got this photo from the same article)

Looking at it some more later the V barrier on the front seems to point to T-72M, which is the more probable answer. This is is from Feb 10 fighting.

DoD video shows a U.S Air Force Reaper strike on a Russia-made T-72 tank. (Screen shot of DoD video)

We stand by to find out from the internet whether this particular tank was filled with hundreds of Russian PMCs or personally driven by Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu.

Figures compiled from a few news sources like Novaya Gazeta, Meduza, etc. some blog sources that are ‘pro-Russian’ but fairly well informed on the situation in Syria, work put out by CIT, other journalists/experts currently working the issue)

https://www.novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/02/13/75496-oshibka-ili-predatelstvo

https://www.novayagazeta.ru/news/2018/02/12/139439-cit-uznala-imena-pogibshih-v-sirii-boytsov-chvk-vagnera

MK might have the best sources: http://www.mk.ru/politics/2018/02/13/pogibli-40-raneny-72-istochnik-v-chvk-vagnera-utochnil-poteri.html

Oryx probably took number of dead and did standard 3x wounded multiplier, which makes sense.

 

4 thoughts on “U.S. Strikes and Russian PMC Casualties in Syria – Fact vs Fiction

  1. Mr. Kofman,

    I’m a huge fan of your work and consider your analyses to be some of the best in the field. However, if I may offer some criticism, this article is not up to your usual standards as it seems a bit disjointed, contradictory, and overlooks some glaring gaps in the Wagner PMC “100-200 KIA” narrative.

    Normally I would not do this, but as it seems you modifying this article “live” as more news become available, it feels that you may be overlooking some conflicting information.

    First it is a little disappointing that you do not take into account the recent investigative report by Der Spiegel that throws cold water on the massive casualty narrative started by pro-Russian nationalists on Russian social media and picked up by major publications:
    “A team of DER SPIEGEL journalists spent two weeks interviewing both witnesses to, and participants in, the battle. The accounts largely corroborate each other and the image of events that emerges is one that contradicts what has been reported in the Russian and international media.”

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/american-fury-the-truth-about-the-russian-deaths-in-syria-a-1196074.html

    An article published by pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights seems to independently support reporting by Der Spiegel:
    http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=84814

    Some recent interviews of Wagner commanders does not support 100-200 KIA narrative (at least not suffered by the PMC):
    “claim of 200 dead was an exaggeration and that 15 PMCs were killed at the most”.

    https://www.svoboda.org/a/29084090.html

    Finally, the reporting by the Daily Beast and Defense Post throws into serious doubt the veracity of several sources used by Reuters and Bloomberg:
    “For that reason, we suspect that the Vzglyad article is disinformation meant to embarrass the Russian government for failing to defend its assets in the field, if not cajole it into retaliating against the U.S.”

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/did-the-us-really-kill-200-russians-in-syriaor-just-a-few

    From my personal experience as Forward Observer with U.S Army in Iraq, we (the U.S military) consistently over-estimate the size of the opposing force and the number of casualties suffered by our adversaries. Thus, the proposition that the military’s estimates of 100 enemy casualties would be significantly lower (or even equal) to what your article suggests (100-200 KIA, with another probable 200-300 WIA), is highly unrealistic. We routinely overstate the number of enemy combatants and their casualties, especially when there are airstrikes involved. The idea that we are trying to under-report the number of enemy casualties does not hold water, as when the initial numbers came out (around 100 KIA), we were not aware of Wagner PMC participation in the attack. As information about killed PMC personnel began to trickle in, the estimates did not decline (if anything, they grew). The official Russian statements also trend in upward direction, as they went from denying the knowledge of the incident, to confirming 5 KIAs, to stating on the 20th of Feb that there are several dozens of casualties (KIA and WIA combined).

    As you originally stated, “Somewhere on the order of 200 dead is also improbable unless the numbers for those attacking were much higher than being reported by the American side. The U.S. would have to kill literally everyone involved, and that seems quite a reach for typical rules of engagement.” You are absolutely correct in that assessment, not to mention the fact that the attack would have to consist entirely of PMC personnel (which we know was not the case). We already know that multiple SAA elements participated in the battle and if we add their casualties to the losses you suggest Wagner PMC suffered, the casualty numbers increase to over 300 KIA and probably around 900 WIA. I don’t think anyone is seriously reporting over 1,000 casualties in that particular battle, especially as the Central Command stayed firm on the number of combatants involved.

    Personally, I participated in countless fire-fights in Iraq where we routinely called in artillery and airstrikes on enemy positions and in every case we grossly over-estimated the number of enemy combatants involved and killed. To kill 25-50% of the attacking battalion, and to wound the rest (1-3 ratio of KIA to WIA) due to indirect fire and airstrikes, without closing in with the infantry is a feat that belongs in video games and movies (the enemy combatants would have to consistently advance in the face of horrendous casualties…and the Central Command rejected that narrative already). The fact that there is virtually no footage of destroyed enemy hardware besides the footage in the Der Spiegel article, the strike on a lone artillery position, and the destruction of T-72 (and of course the numerous fake images of destroyed Ukrainian hardware as well as combat footage from a video game), and the fact that the list of known PMC casualties did not grow significantly in the 2.5 months after the incident (despite the great investigative efforts by reporters at Conflict Intelligence Team and etc), is indicative that 100-200 KIA figure is highly suspect. I think your original estimate of 20 PMC KIA was significantly more accurate. That figure probably grew to around 40 PMC KIA as there are reports by Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that an explosion in a weapons storage facility killed additional 15 Wagner personnel around the time of the strikes:

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/15-russian-private-security-workers-dead-syria-says-monitor-368531985

    It’s possible that Wagner PMC suffered over 100 casualties in the early February (40 KIA, 60-80 WIA), but the number of 100-200 PMC KIA does not seem very realistic for the reasons listed above.

    Please keep up the good work, as your analyses always make a fascinating read.

    P.S – the similarities in our names are purely coincidental. As far as I know, we are not related 🙂

    Like

    • all points taken – this was more of a hot take that I found myself updating with new info. I saw the Der Spiegel report but there was a lot suggesting the kill count was closer to what MK wrote of 40+72. Still there were a lot of colleagues who suggested to me it was higher. For example I can point to Mike Pompeo’s confirmation testimony where he alluded to it being in the couple hundred. So I’m somewhat struggling with this one –

      Like

      • p.s – I think you and my cousin are FB friends (Pavel Levitan). Do you know each other well?

        —————————————————————————————————————————————

        This is an interesting case and your allusion to Rashomon is very apt.

        If I had to draw the line of how the mass casualty figure spread, I’d say it started with Aleksandr Ionov, picked up by DNR/LNR commanders who are unhappy with Wagner (their participation in LNR coup, assassinations of DNR/LNR old guard leaders, drain of manpower, Streklov’s sidelining, etc), additionally spread by opportunists like Alksnis and Feygin, at which point it got the attention of Reuters, Bloomberg, and etc.

        I agree that there is a lot of conflicting information and everyone can basically claim any number from 5 to 644 (and at least find some support for their version). For example, Neil Hauer is pretty firm on 200 KIA, (https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/syria/2018-02-26/russias-mercenary-debacle-syria) although his supporting sources leave a lot to be desired. The fact that he uses KavcazCenter.com in his support of 200 KIA makes me highly suspect of that number. (http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2018/02/13/116323/sham–kadyrovtsy-nakhodyaschiesya-v-sirii-rasskazali-svoyu-versiyu-unichtozheniya-bandy-vagnera-video.shtml) Additionally, he uses the Reuters article that supports its claims with 2nd-hand information (a colleague of the doctor interviewed claimed certain KIA and WIA numbers). When Reuters tried to confirm the information themselves, they were unable to get any corroborating information.

        Other publications are a lot more cautions, as in the case of the recent Wall Street Journal article on the event, “Although the exact size and composition of the forces crossing the Euphrates that night is in dispute, the fact of the crossing and the presence of Wagner Group mercenaries is not. ”

        https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-u-s-battlefield-victory-against-russias-little-green-men-1522792572

        Similar case with Bear Market Brief (I think they even cite you in their article), https://bearmarketbrief.com/2018/02/19/company-men-what-the-us-strike-on-wagner-pmc-reveals-about-the-russian-proxy-relationship/

        Mike Pompeo’s confirmation testimony was quite a show, but I find it very difficult to take what he says at a face value. Basically, his comment did not strike me as anything other than playing up to the crowd and trying to paint himself as a Russia hawk who will not let POTUS go soft on Russia. Bloomberg seems to confirm this, “A source told Bloomberg that the “Trump administration is considering citing the deaths of scores of Russian mercenaries in a Feb. 7 battle with U.S.-backed forces in Syria as evidence of the president’s tough stance toward the Kremlin.” Also, doesn’t his flippant comment fly in the face of “U.S. intentionally under reported Russian PMC casualties in this fight” point you made in the article?

        For me, it all comes down to what we know as a fact (or as close to it as possible) and what can be spun as hyperbole. Before the involvement of PMCs was knows, U.S Central Command was claiming 300 to 500 man element was engaged and it suffered 100 KIA (casualties?). For weeks after the incident, they stood firm on those numbers, and as sensationalism ramped up, the numbers began to climb. That’s to be expected, as no military man will ever dispute a higher kill count that is being attributed to him, and killing Russian mercs is a lot more exotic than Syrian tribesmen. Simple math just does not support the 200 KIA PMC narrative. That would involve us grossly underestimating the numbers of attackers (unlikely based on the ISR assets we committed prior and during the battle and the planning involved, as we were aware of the impending attack), and it would mean that Syrian forces did not participate in the battle (which we know for a fact they did, based on the Der Spiegel footage, numerous pictures of the funerals, and statements by U.S Central Command ). I allude to what I wrote previously, if we killed 200 PMCs, and 100 Syrians, that means we wounded another 900 (over 1,000 casualties?) That means we were attacked by a force that was at least three times as large as what we estimated (probably larger as we would not be able to kill and wound EVERY single person participating in the battle, and U.S Central Command’s is firm on the fact that we stopped firing as soon as the attackers disengaged). Combine that with the fact that after the initial surge of sensational casualty reports, there is virtually zero information or corroboration of the victims, and the fact that open souse investigators (CIT, Bellicat, etc) were able to uncover only a few names, leads me to highly doubt the 100-200 KIA numbers. And of course there are reports out there that directly contradict those high numbers as well (Der Spiegel, SOHR, Novaya Gazeta, MK, Andrei Troshev, etc).

        MT numbers of 40 KIA and 72 WIA make sense and they align with Der Spiegel’s . Keep in mind, there was also an explosion at a weapons storage facility in the area that allegedly took the lives of 15 Wagner personnel (http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/15-russian-private-security-workers-dead-syria-says-monitor-368531985). It’s very possible that Der Spiegel was only reporting on the KIAs they were tracking that lost their lives during the course of the battle and not rolling up the total deaths of Wagner in the early-mid Feb. MK may be combining those numbers (25+15). Also, unless I am mistaken, MK was actually claiming 40 KIA, 72 WIA of Wagner AND Syrians combined (Источник назвал общую цифру в 40 человек погибших и 72 раненых (имелись в виду, опять-таки, в основном сирийцы). (http://www.mk.ru/politics/2018/02/13/pogibli-40-raneny-72-istochnik-v-chvk-vagnera-utochnil-poteri.html).

        Is it possible that 100 people were killed during the course of the battle in the early February east of Deir ez-Zor? Yes. But it’s highly unlikely that all or even most were Wagner. 25-40 KIA (depending if you count the explosion at the weapons storage facility) with another 70-80 WIA is probably a lot more realistic. As an added bonus, that number stands right in the middle of the less sensational (boring?) number of 5 to 15, and the more scandalous 200 to 644. I think your initial assessment, “Of these the number of PMCs killed is probably more than a dozen but doubtfully exceeds 30-40 ” was dead on.

        My intent was in no way to disparage your work, I just wasn’t sure if you were aware of the conflicting facts/reports that did not support the more sensational 100-200 KIA narrative. In the end I suppose we are back to our old friend, Rashomon.

        Like

  2. This is an interesting case and your allusion to Rashomon is very apt.

    If I had to draw the line of how the mass casualty figure spread, I’d say it started with Aleksandr Ionov, picked up by DNR/LNR commanders who are unhappy with Wagner (their participation in LNR coup, assassinations of DNR/LNR old guard leaders, drain of manpower, Streklov’s sidelining, etc), additionally spread by opportunists like Alksnis and Feygin, at which point it got the attention of Reuters, Bloomberg, and etc.

    I agree that there is a lot of conflicting information and everyone can basically claim any number from 5 to 644 (and at least find some support for their version). For example, Neil Hauer is pretty firm on 200 KIA, (https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/syria/2018-02-26/russias-mercenary-debacle-syria) although his supporting sources leave a lot to be desired. The fact that he uses KavcazCenter.com in his support of 200 KIA makes me highly suspect of that number. (http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2018/02/13/116323/sham–kadyrovtsy-nakhodyaschiesya-v-sirii-rasskazali-svoyu-versiyu-unichtozheniya-bandy-vagnera-video.shtml) Additionally, he uses the Reuters article that supports its claims with 2nd-hand information (a colleague of the doctor interviewed claimed certain KIA and WIA numbers). When Reuters tried to confirm the information themselves, they were unable to get any corroborating information.

    Other publications are a lot more cautions, as in the case of the recent Wall Street Journal article on the event, “Although the exact size and composition of the forces crossing the Euphrates that night is in dispute, the fact of the crossing and the presence of Wagner Group mercenaries is not. ”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-u-s-battlefield-victory-against-russias-little-green-men-1522792572

    Similar case with Bear Market Brief (I think they even cite you in their article), https://bearmarketbrief.com/2018/02/19/company-men-what-the-us-strike-on-wagner-pmc-reveals-about-the-russian-proxy-relationship/

    Mike Pompeo’s confirmation testimony was quite a show, but I find it very difficult to take what he says at a face value. This is a man who’s biggest accomplishment as the head of CIA was the creation of the Chaplain Corps to reduce officers’ high divorce rates and when Tim Kaine asked him, “If regime change is US policy, why wouldn’t other countries then embrace it as appropriate for the US?”, his response was, “Point generally taken but I don’t find the moral equivalency there in each case you are applying. This is an exceptional country.” Basically, his comment did not strike me as something other than playing up to the crowd and trying to paint himself as a Russia hawk who will guide POTUS to stand up to the Russian meddling. Bloomberg seems to confirm this, “A source told Bloomberg that the “Trump administration is considering citing the deaths of scores of Russian mercenaries in a Feb. 7 battle with U.S.-backed forces in Syria as evidence of the president’s tough stance toward the Kremlin.” Also, doesn’t his flippant comment fly in the face of “U.S. intentionally under reported Russian PMC casualties in this fight” point you made in the article?

    For me, it all comes down to what we know as a fact (or as close to it as possible) and what can be spun as hyperbole. Before the involvement of PMCs was knows, U.S Central Command was claiming 300 to 500 man element was engaged and it suffered 100 KIA (casualties?). For weeks after the incident, they stood firm on those numbers, and as sensationalism ramped up, the numbers began to climb. That’s to be expected, as no military man will ever dispute a higher kill count that is being attributed to him, and killing Russian mercs is a lot more exotic than Syrian tribesmen. Simple math just does not support the 200 KIA PMC narrative. That would involve us grossly underestimating the numbers of attackers (unlikely based on the ISR assets we committed prior and during the battle and the planning involved, as we were aware of the impending attack), and it would mean that Syrian forces did not participate in the battle (which we know for a fact they did, based on the Der Spiegel footage, numerous pictures of the funerals, and statements by U.S Central Command ). I allude to what I wrote previously, if we killed 200 PMCs, and 100 Syrians, that means we wounded another 900 (over 1,000 casualties?) That means we were attacked by a force that was at least three times as large as what we estimated (probably larger as we would not be able to kill and wound EVERY single person participating in the battle, and U.S Central Command’s is firm on the fact that we stopped firing as soon as the attackers disengaged). Combine that with the fact that after the initial surge of sensational casualty reports, there is virtually zero information or corroboration of the victims, and the fact that open souse investigators (CIT, Bellicat, etc) were able to uncover only a few names, leads me to highly doubt the 100-200 KIA numbers. And of course there are reports out there that directly contradict those high numbers as well (Der Spiegel, SOHR, Novaya Gazeta, MK, Andrei Troshev, etc).

    MT numbers of 40 KIA and 72 WIA make sense and they align with Der Spiegel’s . Keep in mind, there was also an explosion at a weapons storage facility in the area that allegedly took the lives of 15 Wagner personnel (http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/15-russian-private-security-workers-dead-syria-says-monitor-368531985). It’s very possible that Der Spiegel was only reporting on the KIAs they were tracking that lost their lives during the course of the battle and not rolling up the total deaths of Wagner in the early-mid Feb. MK may be combining those numbers (25+15). Also, unless I am mistaken, MK was actually claiming 40 KIA, 72 WIA of Wagner AND Syrians combined (Источник назвал общую цифру в 40 человек погибших и 72 раненых (имелись в виду, опять-таки, в основном сирийцы). (http://www.mk.ru/politics/2018/02/13/pogibli-40-raneny-72-istochnik-v-chvk-vagnera-utochnil-poteri.html).

    Is it possible that 100 people were killed during the course of the battle in the early February east of Deir ez-Zor? Yes. But it’s highly unlikely that all or even most were Wagner. 25-40 KIA (depending if you count the explosion at the weapons storage facility) with another 70-80 WIA is probably a lot more realistic. As an added bonus, that number stands right in the middle of the less sensational (boring?) number of 5 to 15, and the more scandalous 200 to 644. I think your initial assessment, “Of these the number of PMCs killed is probably more than a dozen but doubtfully exceeds 30-40 ” was dead on.

    My intent was in no way to disparage your work, I just wasn’t sure if you were aware of the conflicting facts/reports that did not support the more sensational 100-200 KIA narrative. In the end I suppose we are back to our old friend, Rashomon.

    Like

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