Russian SF in Palmyra Highlighted

    Recent media have highlighted the presence of Russian Special Operations forces in Syria, and particularly around the area of the highly contested battlefield of Palmyra. According to sources, the SF soldiers pictured aren’t the famed Spetsnaz, but instead are of the SSO, another contingent of special operations forces organized very similar to Spetsnaz units. The release of these public materials could serve a strategic purpose as these SF troops are probably a Tier Two or even Tier Three level SF asset. Thus, when looking at these materials we may come to many conclusions about their equipment and small arms, but the issue items of the Tier One guys is still kept very secret. So we might have some idea about what Russian SF troops are using, but instead might also be far off our mark when it comes down to the actual capabilities of Russia’s elite forces. One trend that looks to be evolving is the usage of suppressors on the issue 5.45x39mm Kalashnikov AK74Ms and precision rifles but also on the RPK74 Light Machine Guns also in use. PKMs mounted with optics is increasing as well, I’m sure suppressors will be the next addition. Another trend that is interesting is the dependence on U.S. or European equipment as opposed to Russian designed material. I must caution that just because we see some of this equipment doesn’t mean that it is of the original manufacturer, and may indeed be excellent copies made in Russia. This does bring into question the quality of said equipment. A prime example is of some of the EOTechs in use. Simply because it looks like an EOTech from afar, doesn’t mean it is one, and thus doesn’t mean that it might have IR capabilities or be able to maintain zero/parallax like the currently made EOTechs after their scandal with U.S. SOCOM command.

    This soldier is particularly interesting because he has wrapped an attachment that usually goes around a rifle’s buttstock to hold spare ammunition around his left shoulder. Although innovative and I’m sure making the rounds easier to access, I question his ballistic knowledge. It is commonly known within Marine Corps Scout Sniper communities to never expose your ammunition to direct sunlight because this will raise the temperature of the case and the gunpowder inside of it. Raising the temperature will change the trajectory of the rounds when fired. Because the rounds are now much hotter than when you zeroed the rifle. It could change the trajectory enough for a shooter to miss his target completely at long range.

    Notice the Steyr Mannlicher rifle and Safariland belt holster for this shooter’s handgun. I’m not familiar with the NVG mounting plate as it must be a Russian design.



    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]