The footage was aired on December 11 by the Russian TV show Vesti Nedeli, a weekly program on state TV’s channel Rossiya-1 hosted by Dmitry Kiselyov.
Vesti.ru has published the footage and transcripts of Rossiya-1’s exclusive feature of a spetsnaz colonel describing how Russian forces “liquidate suicide bombers.” [WARNING: GRAPHIC]
But this footage purportedly shows spetsnaz firing on figures that appear to be militants which Rossiya-1 claims are ISIS fighters (Russia still uses the term “ISIL”). The video shows the Russian spetsnaz firing on a vehicle, then as the fighters inside attempt to escape, they fire on them again until they are convinced that they are dead.
The location of the fighting in Syria is not revealed and we could not determine it from the video. We also cannot be sure if the militants killed are even from ISIS.
It’s important to note that the feature was broadcast just as ISIS fighters were re-taking Palmyra, forcing Syria and Russian forces into retreat, an embarrassment for Russia, which had claimed to liberate Palmyra with great fanfare last May. A broadcast about heroic Russian forces may be intended to distract from the loss of Palmyra, which was recaptured by ISIS this week, even at the risk of finally admitting that Russian forces do engage in combat on the ground.
“These were so-called shakhidy [suicide bombers–The Interpreter], armed with suicide belts. They are well-equipped: communications devices, a radio station, weapons, and an off-loader. Ball-bearings packed with plastique, a detonation wire which was placed in a convenient place to carry out a blast. They severed the detonation wire in order to disable the explosive device. He was prepared to liquidate himself, and was destroyed with the first shot.”
There are often only a matter of hours to study the location. As the colonel says:
“One of the most vivid examples — one of the field commanders was destroyed. We obtained information that he was moving between his divisions in an automobile with guards. We went out to a section of the road at night and organized an ambush. We waited for two nights. He appeared only on the third night. After a defeat by fire, the guards tried to leave their leader and escape. They were destroyed by snipers.”
“For days, snipers conduct surveillance of the enemy’s positions and detect the commanders by characteristic signs. Any commander in any division behaves in a certain way. He will definitely have the communications devices, the radio station. He gives the orders to the positions and gestures with his hands. There was a moment when several of the enemy’s machine-gunners would not let the Syrian Army divisions occupy a commanding height. With the help of our snipers, they were destroyed, and the Syrian division successfully completed its mission.”
“We sense that behind us is a great state which has equipped us, trained us and sent us to fulfill an assignment. Accordingly, we have a great responsibility to perform these assignments. Our friendly comrades from Syria look upon us like gods, they think that ten men will defeat everyone. We have to fulfill all these assignments exactly on time.”
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick