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Moscow Means Business: Russia Forms Elite Syrian Army Unit to Hunt Down ISIS

The "ISIS Hunters" are armed and trained by Russian Special Forces in Latakia

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The Syrian Arab Army has consistently struggled to hold and successfully defend territories that they have recaptured from ISIS and other "moderate rebels".

Palmyra is a recent and extremely embarrassing example.

<figcaption>Go time.</figcaption>
Go time.

Luckily, Moscow has found a remedy to this irksome problem.

Our friends at Al Masdar News scored this exclusive story about the formation of a new elite Syrian Army unit:

The Russian military has formed a new Syrian Arab Army (SAA) unit to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization in Syria’s vast desert terrain.

Known as the “ISIS Hunters,” the Syrian Arab Army unit was funded and trained by Russian Special Forces in Latakia before being deployed to the volatile Palmyra front in the eastern countryside of the Homs Governorate. These Russian-trained soldiers are specialized in defending and protecting government facilities in desolate areas around the country.

The ISIS Hunters will be tasked with protecting the liberated gas and oil fields in western Palmyra, along with the weapons storage facilities near the T-4 Military Airport. According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian Arab Army’s Russian advisers want to make sure the government forces do not lose anymore ground they have liberated from the Islamic State (e.g. Palmyra).

Behold, an ISIS Hunter:

Source: Al Masdar News
Source: Al Masdar News

The formation of "ISIS Hunters" is just the latest product of the close relationship between Russian Special Forces and the Syrian Army. As the Washington Post pointed out in March of last year:

It is unclear exactly when Russian special forces began operating in Syria, though prior to Russia’s intervention there, Russian troops had long helped advise and train Syrian forces. According to Michael Kofman, an analyst at CNA who focuses on Russian military operations, Russia currently operates several special forces units in Syria, Zaslon, KSO and detachments of reconnaissance teams.

Part of the Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Zaslon is a highly secretive detachment often responsible for security in high-threat areas. KSO is Russia’s equivalent to the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command and was formed within the past few years.

“Russian special forces are doing a lot of the targeting for Russian airstrikes and a lot of advising for the Syrians,” Kofman said, adding that they provide most of the intelligence on the ground for Russian airpower and help run Syrian operations.

Since the international community seems unwilling to fight terrorism and end the conflict in Syria, it looks like Moscow will just have to solve this little problem the "Russian way".

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