The Special Operations Forces are part of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Special Operations Command, which was established in 2009 as part of a large-scale reform of the Russian Armed Forces.
Since its inception, the unit is believed to have been involved in providing security for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, as well neutralizing armed provocations during the historic March 2014 referendum in the Republic of Crimea, which resulted in the peninsula’s secession from Ukraine and reunification with Russia.
Now the unit is involved in combat operations in Syria, targeting ISIS commanders and supporting the Syrian government forces during key operations.
While it is unclear how long the unit has been deployed in the Syrian Arab Republic, according to the unit’s commander, presented in the video as “Col. Vadim”, the elite group was called in to help the Syrian forces with the rescue of a Russian weapon systems officer, who ejected from the Su-24 attack aircraft when it was shot down by Turkey over terrorist-held territory in Syria back in November 2015. The pilot of the Su-24 was killed by terrorists while parachuting to the ground, the officer, however, was successfully rescued.
Surprisingly, the video was also reported on by The Washington Post, which noted the top-of-the-line gear the Russian Special Forces were equipped with:
In the video that ran Sunday, some of the Russian Special Operations troops can be seen with red-dot weapon sights, thermal imaging devices, laser range finders, and modern bolt-action sniper rifles, including what appears to be a late 2000s Austrian SSG-08 rifle (this rifle was documented in August in Syria by an independent arms research group). Also, one of the Russian soldiers is wearing a Peltor noise-reducing communication headset. Peltor is owned by the U.S.-based company 3M. Its gear is also a staple for U.S. Special Operations troops.
The footage from Syria start at 0:45.
With the battle for Aleppo complete, it is likely that this elite group will now be deployed to Palmyra, an ancient city and a UNESCO world heritage site which Russia has vowed to defend from a recent onslaught of ISIS fighters. In fact, as Alexander Mercouris reported for The Duran – preparations for Palmyra’s liberation are already underway.