Among the Iran-led forces that crossed the Euphrates and opened fire on American-backed troops in Syria two weeks ago were a sizable number of Russian “mercenaries.” Michael Totten notes that, although this fact received minimal coverage, the attack amounts to a Russian “act of war” on the U.S.:
Both the Pentagon and the Kremlin are going out of their way to keep [the incident] as quiet as possible. . . . After the United States used air and drone strikes to obliterate incoming assailants, including dozens of Russians, American military spokespeople assured the press in calm tones that there was never any chance that Russian and American forces would clash directly in [the Syrian city of] Deir Ezzor or anywhere else. The Kremlin, for its part, said any Russians who might have participated in the assault were mercenaries unaffiliated with the Russian armed forces.
The problem with the Kremlin statement is that Russian mercenaries in Syria are employed by the Wagner Group, which works for the Russian government, and specifically for Russia’s Ministry of Defense, not for the Syrian or Iranian governments. . . . The Wagner Group is also, by the way, responsible for the out-of-uniform Russians dubbed the “little green men” fighting in Ukraine in 2014, and the Washington Free Beacon obtained a photograph taken in 2016 that shows some of these mercenaries being given medals by Vladimir Putin himself. . . .
Aside from [a handful of news articles], this incident has received almost no media coverage in the United States. . . . Whatever the reason or reasons, Americans have missed an opportunity to take stock of a terrible fact: that Russia is an outright enemy of the United States that just committed an act of war against us in the Middle East. Unless Vladimir Putin has suddenly and silently been deterred—fat chance of that being the case—something else will have to happen to get our attention. Something bigger, something worse, something more dangerous.