Unidentified SF working in Aleppo Province

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Photographs of the rebel group Free Syrian Army have been circulating around since September that show a group of soldiers firing what appear to be Soltam K6 120mm mortars (Israeli origin, M120 in the U.S) at enemy positions in the vicinity of Aleppo Province. The odd part about the photos is that some of the troops firing the mortars don’t appear to be FSA troops at all. They certainly aren’t Syrian, as their equipment doesn’t relate to anything the FSA is using, with Berettas in Safariland holsters (depending on unit, but can be standard within U.S forces), and Glocks in what appears to be 1957 Radar holsters (standard issue within the British Army), MSA headgear, Meindl boots, in addition to British MTP Multicam scheme in use with many international forces rather than indigenous FSA soldiers. One of the soldiers is also wearing Turkish camouflage as well. The pictures have appeared on various Turkish and Arabic news websites, all from the a Getty Images source, which also appears to have been taken by a Turkish photographer from the Anadolu agency. Alongside them seem to be normal FSA troops. They could possibly be Turkish forces, but Turkish SF has a different camouflage scheme other than Multicam. Turkey is known to be helping the FSA in a number of covert ways.sy1814lasak Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 8.12.08 PM

A close up of one of these guys appears to show a very advanced plate carrier that he is messing with. The plate carrier could also be a British issued Virtus plate carrier.

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 8.12.08 PM

Safariland holster fitted to a thigh rig.sy1813yusfm

Notice the Radar 1957 holster with a Glock 17 inserted.

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Update- Some of our readers have chimed in with important details, and the post has been updated as such, thank you readers! In addition we have received this footage of the same mortar team!

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 1.11.37 PM



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Graham2

    Damn, I was trying not to get noticed!

  • Spencerhut

    Look at the hearing protection.And what is with the beer gut? Looks like guns for hire from the North American part of the world.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      If looks like some of the guys aren’t even wearing ear pro and if they are just simple inserts.

      • Phillip Cooper

        (yelling)
        WHAT?!??!
        (/yelling)

        • valorius

          One day out on the range, when i was in a 4.2″ mortar platoon, i forgot my hearing protection. To teach me a (as it turns out lifelong) lesson, my Plt sgt made me man the gunners position. You can’t easily put your hands over your ears when you’re the gunner, because you have to rapidly re-level the bubbles between shots.

          I think we fired 60 rds of 4.2″ that day.

          Yep, i’ve got a lot of hearing loss.

          • Patrick

            Wow. Can’t say I agree that permanent hearing loss is a great way of enforcing discipline. Not sure if this crossed any lines.

          • Ron

            Years ago people did not think about things like possibility of hearing loss. I remember as a young Marine and later as a young officer going through the Basic School. We were only use to hearing protection on static ranges, when ever we did live fire and maneuver you were prohibited to wear hearing protection, because the theory was it blocked too much of your hearing preventing you from hearing safety commands.

          • 360_AD

            Yup. That Sgt. is a moron.

          • valorius

            Shrug. I shouldn’t have forgotten my hearing protection. Also- rolled up MRE cardboard box fragments are a lousy substitute for foam ear plugs, lmao.

    • Ron

      Almost all the Iraqi officers in the Bde I was MiTT for had beer bellies

    • Richard

      I came to the same conclusion.

  • Ryan

    That multicam pattern is British MTP.

    • Anonymoose

      Which is available online in the US, so that doesn’t really give us a location.

      • Uniform223

        Also British MTP and Multi-cam are very similar unless looked at VERY closely. The way the individual is positioned and the angle doesn’t prove that is British MTP or not.

    • SD

      Would explain the Glock 17. Probably British SF?

      • imachinegunstuff

        Also the Radar Holster are issued for the British Army

        • valorius

          plausible deniability mk2

        • Bob

          The holster is also part of the safety case for the pistol (as in other holsters require writted exemptions to be issued, not at all common) not that it probably matters for SF.

          However, the UK doesn’t use the muzzle blast deflector seen on its 81mm mortars (again unless SF have bought some, it seems unlikely).

      • valorius

        I’m guessing civilian contractors from a variety of western nations, hired by the US gov’t, probably the CIA.

        • Minuteman

          plausible deniability mk3

    • valorius

      plausible deniability.

  • Cfindlay

    notice the sandals… no boots on the ground allowed!

  • Tritro29

    He’s not messing with his plate carrier but with a BMS laptop, giving and getting coordinates for strikes. Those are Meindl boots (Kansas Gore-tex), but not those issued by the UK. Also there’s whole footage of this op that took place earlier in October (8th).

    The troop is supposed to be US and embedded with FSA and Turkish military, Turkish pattern with beer gut is visible.

    i can also forward you whole clip where these guys are called Khanzir (pig) by their Jihadi allies.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      So who do you think they are?

      • Tritro29

        From my POV, Mixed bunch between US and UK helping out their side in this dogfight. Not the first time they’ve been filmed either. These are Sultan Murad FSA guys so Occam’s razor says the guys is US, but he’s got MTP, has a Glock the Brits use (but not only them), has Meindl (that Brits don’t issue though) I’m narrowing that to those two.

        No bad blood either, Americans have interests in this race, We have interests in this race, just we should all stop pretending this is fine. ;-)/

        • Harry’s Holsters

          With the flexibility these type of “persons” are given on gear choice I guess it’s hard to tell who’s flag they’re working under and as far as the camo pattern I’d say this could be subversion from anyone. I guess the real question is if these guys are military or contractors? Even then who could tell.

          • Tritro29

            Oh these are DoD linked people, since they’ve had A-10 CAS in more than one video.

          • Excellent observations! I’ve updated the post as such with your input, could you send me a link to that clip of these guys working? Or to my email listed in the bio above?

          • Tritro29

            No probs.

          • Tritro29

            I sent you a couple of clips on your mail.

          • Ron

            The only requirement to use air (other than ECAS) is to be a JTAC with a call sign, radios with the proper crypto fills and freqs . Outside of the US DoD, all of our NATO allies and the OGA(s) have qualified JTACs

          • Tritro29

            I sent to Miles a batch of videos. Outside the US and maybe the UK, There is only Turkey that supports Operation Euphrates Shield. Occam’s Razor and all. These are the offshoot of the T&E program, only the US and Turks deal with them.

          • Ron

            They very well could be USSOF or UKSOF (for that matter NATO partner SOF) but they could also be part of many of the OGA elements being used.

          • Tritro29

            By definition these are armed elements with COIN background. This simply takes away any other OGA, bar the Ground Branch or DIA’s merry rabbits even if they’re supposed to be on the other side of the country and in Iraq. I suppose you have read the Sofrep article on who and how rolls with the Turks to “support” the FSA and its Jihadi friends. Well from there you can pinpoint who these guys are. The only thing that is interesting is that aren’t afraid anymore to show themselves in a foreign country in perfect illegality.

          • Ron

            I am not even sure what “By definition these are armed elements with COIN background” means.

            I have experience working with USSOF and some of the OGA to know that instruction on the usage of mortars and providing terminal control is well within all their capabilities

          • Tritro29

            The problem isn’t placing a mortar and sending rounds downrange. You have experience working with USSOF, but you’re not sure those are US.

            It means these people are military, they’re not Ground Branch or DIA. Period.

            Well let’s be honest to each other. The guys who posted this video are the Hazm/Sultan Murad group, they are among the US “vetted opposition”. They handlers from the DoD were recently exposed by a footage leak that showed the FSA to be a political prop trained by the US, Army special forces.

          • Ron

            It actually means absolutely nothing other than people are making a lot of assumptions.

            Its not unusual for all of our allies to have almost all the capabilities of US forces (to include the ability to provide terminal control of aircraft, in fact one of my FA-18 pilot friend mentioned that he often dealt with Foreign SOF during OEF that were better at directing air than US forces). And the OGA elements often have the exact same capabilities as their DoD counterparts, with some of them being temp loaned from the DoD to those OGAs

          • Tritro29

            However you’re ignoring the fact that:

            ° This isn’t OEF/OIF.
            ° This is an operation which the US is the only partner of Turkey in control because it is supposed to be a covert one. Euphrates Shield/Harakat Firat Kalkan is a Turkish operation outside OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve).
            Hence the fact these guys are peeked by their Jihadi friends on the videos, they’re not in the open like they were in Iraq or their conjunction with PYD or SDF.
            ° More informed people has said these are US SOF, Jihadis have said they are US SOF. The Pentagon won’t refute these are US SOF as in SOCOM personnel. But no, they’re supposed to be Italians or French.

            Going against Occam’s razor isn’t exactly sharp, but you may think what ever you want. It’s a free world.

          • Ron

            Like I said they may or may not be US and they may or may not be DoD or for that matter many people (to include those in the US gov) don’t know the difference between DoD and some of the OGAs.

            So based on a few video people are assuming a whole bunch, but as you said if it’s a free world.

          • Tritro29

            … yes, yes. Problem is that DOD has answering questions about the T&E mission with these guys. Continuously. Based on past records these are americans with 99% probability. Opinions are free indeed. Facts they are stubborn.

        • MPWS

          Exactly, this is all done in host’s (Syrian) land and without invitation.

      • 11b

        If you reverse image search you’ll see it’s FSA and Western SF, almost certainly US, fighting ISIL in Aleppo province. Lets not forget Aleppo province is a lot different than Aleppo CITY, where there is zero ISIL presence and no Western SF presence either. Pretty straight forward as we’ve been calling CAS for anyone willing to fight ISIL for a while now.

        • jay

          But USA is also providing CAS FOR ISIS! Remember the US air force attack on the high ground, strategic position of the Syrian Army in Deir ez-Zor? There’s nothing but ISIS in that region. Deir ez-Zor has been under siege for the most part of this conflict and ISIS promissed to kill everyone inside that city and US Air force bombed the Syrian army defending that city to help the ISIS offensive.
          The strategy in Syria is to create this jihadis and send them occupy syrian land, then USA with the Turks and Arabs would come and “liberate” the place, so they can milk it.
          I’m sure the plan in Washington was to cut up Syria in pieces and split it between Turkey, Arab states and Israel.

      • MPWS

        Sorry mixing into your conversation, but my bet it someone with easy access to. Put is simply – aligned with Western interests.

  • Ron

    The picture of them inspecting the 120mm ammo shows the advisor with a Berretta in Safariland holster

  • Olive

    The plate carrier looks like it could be the new Virtus body armour that some of the British use. It has a quick release which breaks away at the shoulder. Kinda how it looks in that picture, just a guess though. Also they appear to be using the Soltam K6 120mm mortar which is of Isreali origin and the M252 81 mm mortar which is British. If I had to guess I’d say British.

    • Ron

      The M120 are an American made system based originally on an Israeli design. However the IDF 120mm mortar was based on captured former Soviet 120mm mortars

  • Iggy

    Equipment isn’t a great way to place where these guy’s may come from. I’ve read an account that some of the first US special forces guys going into Afghanistan (basically going in before the war was official to help out the Northern Alliance) were literally given a credit card and told to go buy their gear (holsters, webbing etc) commercially before heading over, so none of their stuff was directly standard issue . Same account also mentions they bought some PK’s from a Pakistani arms dealer when they got in country and needed more firepower. So it’s pretty easy (with resources) to outfit yourself professionally without being specifically traceable, even if you’re still clearly some kinda spec ops, it still keeps things fuzzy enough for deniability.
    And the real pro’s won’t be noticed at all, SAS guy in Desert Storm was caught by Iraqi Forces disguised as Bedouin, interrogated and let go because they thought he was just a Bedouin. (Also quite likely inspired The Fist of God by Fredrick Forsyth).

    • Tritro29

      ..If we’re talking about McNab’s story, none of the patrol could have been mistaken for Iraqis, also they all opened fire on IA.

      • Iggy

        No this was different incident, I forget which British Museum , but in my youth I actually saw the Bedouin outfit on display.
        Bravo Two Zero is a different kettle of fish.

        • Martin Grønsdal

          so the british museum (or maybe the imperial war museum?) displays evidence of violation of the rules of war?

  • Pete Sheppard

    Don’t the Turks make a Beretta 92 clone?

    • MPWS

      They make clone of anything; free of license fees.

      • Pete Sheppard

        Good point. 🙂 For the most part, they do a pretty good job.

  • ReadyorNot

    Multicam and all its copies have been widely adopted across various factions in Syria and Iraq. I say let these guys operate as discreetly as possible without drawing attention to them and their gear.

    • Minuteman

      This is exactly the reason I personally prefer good ‘ole OD, FDE and alike.

  • Phillip Cooper

    There’s this thing called the Internet- you can get anything you want. That they are using a specific carrier or camo doesn’t tell you much at all.

  • kalashnikev

    Fake Syrian Army = JaN = al Qaeda.

    They’re probably just your run of the mill transnational jihadis with passports from wherever. In a few months they’ll be back in their homes, ordering tactical gear off the web, and plotting their next attack.

    • DIR911911 .

      fsa = cia

      • kalashnikev

        = “Division 13” = JaA = al Qaeda…

    • jay

      Nope. There are special forces from a lot of NATO countries, Sunni Arab countries, Turkey and Israel working together with ISIS, Al Nursa, FSA and whatever flavor of jihadis they invented recently.
      There were reports of at least 20 NATO and Israeli “advisers” killed in a Russian Kalibr missile hit on Al Nursa command and control post in Eastern Aleppo.
      Few days later the Americans bombed the strategic Syrian army position in Deir ez-Zor and then attacked the Russian embassy in Damascus with mortars.
      Without USA backing, this jihadis would have never existed.

  • MPWS

    Excellent approach to analytical thinking; away from blind reception of BS. Congrats!

  • MPWS

    Frankly, there are ‘militias’ aligned with Turkish forces (likely Turkmens living in Syria; one of them killed Russian co-pilot in known incident). They do most of heavy lifting if fighting with Kurdish self-defence force (YPG) which Turkey labels as terrorists. I am not claiming that this is the case, but one of possibilities. But given the equipment it is a strong possibility. FSA is a fiction.

    In current “news” supply flow, facts are often mis-represented.

    • Tritro29

      This is Northern Aleppo, there’s almost no one Turkment village remaining there. since the late 70’s. Most of the Turkmen are either around Hasaka, Qmishli or Latakia.

  • valorius

    Probably CIA hired contractors.

  • Minuteman

    Those guys are Brits.

  • jay

    Your tax dollars at work, supporting terrorists and murdering people allover the planet.
    I used to look up to USA for freedom and peace,…..then i started paying attention to what’s actually happening and now i see USA for what it is: the great Babylon form the Revelation.

    • Aldo1887

      Freedom isn’t “free” dipsh*t.. I’m sure you would be better off under a Caliphate….smfh..

      • jay

        And guess who’s making this caliphate, dipshit? USA. You are the country behind all this jihadist movements. USA controls Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Sunni dictators in the Arab world, then those countries produce the wahabi “freedom forghters” and ship them all over the planet, with the help of USA.
        Open your eyes and see who’s running this Caliphate.
        Iraq was a secular country before you guys got involved. Now is an amalgam of jihadis. Libya was secular country, now it’s ISIS hotbed. Syria was secular and morons like you try as hard as possible to turn it into a caliphate.
        Wake the hell up. Ignorant Americans like you are making this possible.

        • John Yossarian

          It’s not us who are behind it – The parasitical elites are simply using the US military and NATO to do these things. Think of the wasp larvae controlling the caterpillar.

          We are being consumed by them as is Europe. The only threat to the parasitical elites is a resurgence of Western values, which they are destroying by every means available.

          • jay

            Yes, that’s true, but it couldn’t be done without US military. If the American people would wake up and reclaim their military, this whole mess would be over in hours.
            I live in Canada and this country is controlled by the same scumbags, but the big difference is that we don’t have this huge powerful army, like USA, that enslaves the whole planet. So, our tax dollars enslave only us, not the whole planet, like in the case of US military.
            Let’s face it. This will not stop until the American people face the truth, that USA army is no longer theirs, but it’s working for a diabolical rotten cabal.
            It’s doing all this carnage, allover the planet, IN YOUR NAME and you should stop them.

          • John Yossarian

            You’re right that the American people do need to awaken – As does all of the West. As I said – We are that zombified caterpillar, mind-controlled into protecting the growing parasites while marching toward its demise.

            However, you have no right to point your finger just at my countrymen.

            Think of it – The second largest landmass in the world, with the tinniest little population to hold it down. Your military would have to be many times larger if it wasn’t for NORAD, or you could wave buh-bye to all that unpopulated territory in a heartbeat.

            And not just Canada but Europe and Australia. This is why your meager little militaries get dragged into the wars of aggression – Token repayment for services rendered.

            So if the US military were to *poof* vanish – You’d have to build yours to compensate. The Amish people who contract a bus to drive them around might not think they are “sinners” because there’s no Amish man behind the wheel – But I know better.

          • jay

            I absolutely believe in the right and DUTY of every country to protect it’s own borders. Alliances usually worked for the big players and smaller players were always used for strategic position, raw materials, man power. See Czechoslovakia in WW2. It was simply given to the Germans.

        • gusto

          what does it matter if it is secular or not when it is not democratic?

          Assad and Saddam were douchebags plain and simple,

          the problem isn’t western intervention. the problem is late intervention.

          In all these countries the western world has stood by and looked in the beginning when young people, students and real freedom fighters have bleed on the streets. give them support straight away before the jihadists arrive and fvck up the situation.

          The kurds that are getting so much praise now has been doing this for nearly 100 years, they are clearly the good guys and have always been but it is just now they have gotten some sort of support
          ffs the israelis got support and funded a succesful nation in the meantime

          • jay

            This were foreign independent countries. What gives USA the right to “intervene” and “fix” other people’s countries? Absolutely nothing.
            If you think this kind of actions are somehow justified, then you should be ok with foreign countries coming to US and destroying your country in order to remove the evil and corrupt government.
            Please spare me with this BS idea, that USA intervened to save the people from their leaders.
            Nobody in Washington cares about the people. Heck they don’t care about the American people, why do you think they would care about Iraqis or Syrians. It’s all about occupying independent countries and draining their resources.

          • jay

            And one thing i forgot about the “dictators”. Why isn’t USA doing anything about the Saudi dictators and even cover their crimes in Yemen and allover middle east?

          • noamsaying

            You obviously are uninformed as to the history of the region. Iraq is an artificial country created by the Brits after World War 1. A shotgun wedding of Kurds, Shia and Sunni. Should have been 3 separate countries. Was unbelievably unstable before the thug Sadaam took over.

          • Tritro29

            3 seaparate countries? Lol you do understand that Kurds are embeded in 4 countries currently? What do you think is going to happen when you split Iraq or Syria for instance?

            Also the history of the Region is based on a multiethnic structures with leaders that weren’t nationalists at all. Before the 19th century, late, you would have Kurdish local and supreme leaders in Arab empires. The fact is that it is the US who needs to back off and mind its business. Just like everyone else.

          • 61manres

            He’s a missionary full of zeal

          • Tritro29

            Yes because democracy works always on your side…just ask Iranians what they think of “intervention”…

            Also Kurds the “good” guys? When you start thinking about it, the only “good” guys are those that are in the US alliance, and it happens that turkey is a NATO member, which has a big issue with Kurds, so what are you waiting to start a “humanitarian” intervention in Turkey? Israelis founded the main issue in the Middle east and we all did this mess.

        • billyoblivion

          > Iraq was a secular country before you guys got involved.

          >>plonk<<

      • John Yossarian

        Wikileaks revealed what we all knew already – Hillary and Obama were always aware that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are behind ISIS. Vis-a-vis the most notable payments to Secretary Clinton. Saudi Arabia has been giving its criminals a choice – beheading or jihad.

        Beyond that, it’s known that Israel and Turkey are funding other mercenary, Islamist invaders in Syria – As are Kuwait, UAE and possibly Jordan. Syria is NOT in the throes of a civil war but an invasion by outside forces, seeking to overthrow an uncooperative leader.

        The United States bombed the legitimate government of Syria’s special forces – during a ceasefire – in order to allow ISIS to take a strategic hill in the battle for Deir ez-Zor. They bombed for over an hour – dead soldiers and limbs flying everywhere – and then claimed it was an accident.

        All are trying to overthrow Assad on behalf of the banking cartel. The US military is the prime weapon of the cartel – And have been for a very long time. Just ask Maj Gen Smedley Butler.

      • Sgt. Stedenko

        Aldo,
        You are way out of your league here.
        Better get back to your Highlights magazine and let discussions on funding of terrorists for Pax Americana be handled by the adults who understand why things are happening in the ME and who is actually pushing the death and destruction.
        Protip. Read Gen. Wessley Clark’s “7 countries in 7 years” speech or anything from PNAC/CFR about redrawing the lines in the ME.

    • Uniform223

      Troll alert

  • 7.92Kurz

    Don’t worry, we’re assisting the “moderate rebels” that John McCain said are fighting an oppressive regime and we should send as much weapons and equipment to! Remember they are not in any way shape or form related to ISIS at all even thought they pledged allegiance to them!

    Yeah! Murica’!

  • Jake

    Need backfire bombers to grind these jihadis into dust. a secular syrian goverment under assad is anathema to the ‘progressive liberal regime’ i the usa

    • Chatterbot

      Secular doesn’t mean “good”. Secular regimes brought us death camps, Cultural Revolution, Gulag, Hanoi Hilton etc. Etc.

      • Jake

        secular regimes in the middle east, einstein. these ‘people’ have proven they are unable to use liberty or freedom of speech, and need a heavy handed demagogue to simply keep from devolving into warring sects of islam

  • kevin

    Are you sure that holster is not a safariland 7 series?

  • David Harmon

    I don’t see anyone in that picture that could not be Syrian. There are blond haired blue eyed Syrians….

  • rklk

    m9 and the glocks could be sourced from the iraqi army

  • REbers

    The French run Glocks, Berettas and 120mm mortars

  • valorius

    In the end, it was my fault. Sort of like Clinton blaming comey for reopening the investigation 9 days before the election…no one told her to hide her emails. No one told me to forget my earplugs, lol.

    But thanks for the support. 🙂