I just read a question on history stack exchange that linked to this Feb 2018 National Review article:

On the night of February 7, “pro-regime” Syrian forces reportedly launched an assault on a “known” American base. American forces defended themselves with attack helicopters, jets, and AC-130 gunships, and the attackers withdrew after taking significant casualties.

That next week, on February 12, Reuters reported that at least two Russians died in the fighting, according to their associates. The Russian casualties were apparently contractors accompanying regime forces. By February 13, both the Washington Post and New York Times had picked up the story, and the number of rumored Russian dead swelled to “large numbers” or “dozens,” but — we were assured — there was no direct confrontation between Americans and members of the Russian military.

I was very skeptical, but I found a May 2018 NY Times article that reports the battle in detail.

Did this battle happen?

  • 1
    Welcome to Skeptics! The National Review article provides references to contemporary reports from Reuters, Washington Post and the New York Times. Can you please explain why you are skeptical? (Or was it just a confusion, now edited away, between Feb 2018 and Dec/Jan 2019?)
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 7, 2019 at 7:00
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    I don't understand if you doubt that this battle really happened, that some Russian citizens were killed by US forces, or if you claim (as the headline of your post might suggest) that the Russian mercenaries were actually regular Russian troops??
    – KlausN
    Aug 7, 2019 at 12:27
  • Since the sources you cite do not claim that Russian forces were involved, I have edited the question to ask about what is claimed. If you make the question about Russian forces we would have to close it as not having a notable source. Aug 7, 2019 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


This answer was written before the question underwent some drastic changes, and the title changed to essentially ask whether Russians were among those terrorists who were eliminated in the Battle of Khasham. Originally, the OP was confused about 2019 vs. 2018, and this was the problem this answer addressed.

The battle in question has occurred on 7 February 2018.

Some introductory information can be found at Wikipedia: Battle of Khasham, but I believe no sources deny that the battle has, indeed, occurred.

So, true.

  • 3
    Wikipedia isn't a reliable source for confirming the actual claim. (We use it a lot for filling in the uncontroversial context details, like that Khasham is in Syria.) Try following up the references and quoting those. When you say that there are no sources denying the battle, that's a key part, so it needs a reference.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 7, 2019 at 6:56
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    I agree there doesn't seem to be any dispute that the battle took place. What needs proof is the claim that Russians were involved. Aug 7, 2019 at 7:08
  • If you are looking for sources that confirm that these are Russians, and not simply mercs, look for articles that confirm that Putin stepped in and ordered the evacuation of the casualties back to Russia, an unusual step for this leader and for mercenaries in general.
    – user36356
    Aug 9, 2019 at 16:28

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