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Valiant Russian Spec Ops Team 'Vympel' Turns 35 (Video)

Russian special forces (spetsnaz) sacrificed their lives to save the children of Beslan from terrorists

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

In this incredibly candid report from the training site of an elite Russian spetsnaz unit you will get an idea of its history, what futuristic equipment they use and how they exercise today. Founded in 1981, in the West, Vympel is known as the ‘KGB’s Sword’.

Details of the operation in which Vympel suffered the heaviest losses in the history of Russian spetsnaz follow the video.

September 1 is the beginning of the school year in Russia. Traditionally, whole families gather at school buildings for the opening ceremony.

On that day in 2004, 1128 children and adults were taken hostage at School No 1 in Beslan, a town in the Russian Caucasian Republic of Ossetia. The terrorists came to kill and intimidate, not to negotiate – they did not even give water to their victims.

Vympel bore the brunt of the rescue operation. As their officer told me a year later, the ground around the school could not be cleared of civilians, which would have made the task easier. The school was surrounded by the hostages’ fathers and husbands– angry, despairing men carrying fire arms, as is usual in the Caucasus. You would have had to shoot them.

On the 3rd day of the siege, September 3, a bomb planted by the terrorists inside the building exploded accidentally, prompting the terrorists to start shooting the hostages. The spetsnaz, not yet ready for an assault, rushed to the rescue, forming a live shield between the terrorists and the victims.

314 hostages, including 186 children, lost their lives, but without this heroism, few of the 1128 would have survived in a building stuffed with explosives.

The spetsnaz lost 10 officers, 9 of them from Vympel. As my interlocutor told me then, these were huge losses for an elite unit, but in full awareness, the men sacrificed their lives for the children. Some were newlyweds, or had children of their own.

If this is not altruism from men trained to be killing machines, then I don’t know what it is.

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