In result of another OSINT investigation we have discovered an artillery unit of the 291st separate artillery brigade (military unit No. 64670, Southern Military District, 58th army, stanitsa Totskaya, Republic of Ingushetia, Russia) which, regardless numerous Kremlin’s statements about the ‘impossibility of the Russian ground operation in Syria’, was transferred to this Middle East country within the unstated land mission in September of 2015.
In total 29 soldiers from the 291st artillery brigade sent to Syria with the ‘international mission’ have been found. Deployment of the unit (including the organic 2A65 ‘Msta-B’ 152mm howitzers) has been done via the sea from the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s naval base in Novorossiysk with the help of LPDs starting from September, 2015. The Middle East assignment is planned for 3-4 months with a possible prolongation. The personnel assigned to Syria mainly consists of newly-baked contract soldiers who had signed their contracts on a ‘voluntary-compulsory’ basis after 6-12 months of compulsory service in this artillery unit which has been already disclosed in our articles in the context of the ‘Rostov-Ukraine assignments’.
Let us remind you that in October of 2015 in “Russia Began a Concealed Ground Operation in Syria” article we made a reasonable assumption that the KamAZ-63501 artillery trucks together with the drawn ‘Msta’ howitzers noticed on march in near Al-Shelfatiyeh (Latakia province) could have belonged to the 291st brigade. A month later, our predictions were fully confirmed by the results of our OSINT investigation.
The Russian artillerists, disclosed by the InformNapalm’s scouts, are mainly registered to the North-West of Latakia. Based on the photo evidence, we can state that the 291st brigade’s units follow the ‘roving battery’ tactics, learnt in the summer and fall of 2014 during the hostilities in Donbas.
The area of responsibility of the 291st brigade covers the line of contact between the Assad’s army and the moderate opposition. The maximum firing range of a ‘Msta-B’ unit is 28.9 km. But since there are only the rebel forces within this range, it appears that the Russian artillery takes part in the Syrian civil war and not in the fight against ISIS.
Note: In those tough days the Russian artillery was massively shelling the Ukrainian forces and peaceful settlements, both from the Rostov Oblast, and from the territory of Ukraine during short raids, which has been reflected in a number of our publications (see 1 and 2).
The 291st brigade’s geo-referencing:
Aleksandr Makidonsky poses in front of a mountain (archive) – such landscape and flora can be found in close proximity to the abovementioned geotag from the picture of Aleksandr Shcherbakov. These are the coordinates on several examples of the map – 1, 2, 3.
Misha Lbov made a picture in front of a power line pylon and a woodline (archive), which are characteristic for this region. Here is a map showing this power line, the distance between the pylons and the geotag from Aleksandr’s photo is 20 km.
In the following picture (archive) Aleksandr Makidonsky and Aleksandr Shcherbakov are shown with green meadows and cypresses in background; one-storey buildings, sand and sandstones can be seen near them. Alike terrain is also found on the map not far from the mentioned geotag.
According to this picture (archive), Dmitry Chernyshev is apparently in a different place, supposedly at the artillery base located not far from the village of Al Hamrat and to the North of Shayrat airbase.
All the listed artillerists of the 291st brigade transferred to Syria have been disclosed and identified in the result of investigation of social statuses, comments, pictures, contacts, tags, etc. The common features which unite all these ‘internationalist-artillerists’ are duty station, alike photos, same equipment (including the desert uniform for the hot climate), informal outfit and Syrian cloths, hookahs, selfies with the locals, photos in olive woods, etc.
The list of 29 servicemen from the 291st artillery brigade in Syria:
1. Aleksandr Shcherbakov – a contract servicemen born in Volgograd on April 8, 1995. He has several selfies (1, 2) with geotags in his album – Qal’at Burze, to the North-East of Latakia (archives: profile, album, contacts).
13. Maks Guryanov – a contract serviceman, born in Abdulino on February 9 (archives: profile, album, contacts). He supposedly has been on the ‘Ukrainian assignment’, which is justified by the pictures 8 and 9.
15. Stanislav Rostov – a contract serviceman since August, 2014. He was born in Volgodonsk (archives: profile 1 and 2, album 1 and 2, contacts). Allegedly, he has participated in the war in Ukraine – at least this is proved by the photos on the wall of his profile (see the archive of profile 1, the original picture has been deleted). Sadder but wiser he does not post photos from the abroad trips any more. But a geotag on a photo of his brother-in-arms Rostislav Andreev disclosed the fact of his previous ‘Ukrainian assignment’ (mentioned later).
16. David Mhitaryan – a contract serviceman, born in Krasnodar on March 20, 1994 (archives: profile, album, contacts). This soldier also has no pictures from the abroad trips in his profile, Rostislav Andreev let him down as well.
18. Aleksei Dreiman – a contract serviceman, born on May 31, 1990 (archives: profile, album, contacts). He has a status saying “90 days to go”, which might mean the term of the assignment. No photos from the war in Ukraine, but we should again thank Rostislav Andreev.
Note: besides the listed above Russian servicemen from the 291st artillery brigade on ‘the Syrian assignment’ we should highlight a few soldiers who have drawn our attention:
- Rostislav Andreev – a contract serviceman starting from September of 2014. He was born in the village of Ivanovka (Volgograd Oblast) on November 25 (archives: profile, album, contacts). The ‘clown’ Andreev plays a special role in the identification of the artillerists from the Troitskaya’s brigade, since they were tagged in the “My soul is with you, Brothers!” post (check out the archive, please scroll).
- Vladimir Ponomarev – a contract serviceman, born in Krasnodar on June 25, 1995 (archives: profile, album, contacts). He might has participated in the ‘Ukrainian assignments’.
- Andrei Naumov – a contract serviceman, born in Tuapse on November 14 (archives: profile, album, contacts). He might has participated in the ‘Ukrainian assignments’.
Reference: the 291st separate artillery brigade is the military unit No. 64670, located in stanitsa Troitskaya (Republic of Ingushetia, Russia). It was transferred to Troitskaya from Maykop (Republic of Adygea) in the first half of 2011. The unit is a part of the 58th general army of the Southern Military District. As of 2009 it had 8x 9P140 ‘Uragan’ MRLS units, 36x 2A65 ‘Msta-B’ 152mm howitzers, 6x MT-12 100mm anti-tank cannons, 18x 9P149 ‘Shturm-S’ anti-tank cannons. Also 9M123 ‘Khrizantema’ anti-tank missile complexes were planned to be taken into the service. There are about 500 people of personnel. Colonel Kazakov Sergei Vyacheslavovich was the commander of the brigade at the end of 2014 (links 1, 2, 3, 4).
The assigned personnel consists of:
- barrack 1: artillery reconnaissance battery, engineer-sapper platoon, NBC protection platoon, training complex
- barrack 2: anti-tank artillery division
- barrack 3: 2nd heavy howitzer division
- barrack 4: 2nd heavy howitzer division
- barrack 5: control battery, firing squad, post service
- barrack 6: materiel and technical support company
- barrack 7: 1st heavy howitzer division
- barrack 8: 1st heavy howitzer division
- barrack 11: motorized rifle company No. 9
- barrack 12: motorized rifle battery No. 3, recon platoon
Besides the 291st brigade, Troitskaya also hosts so-called ‘Ingush national battalion’ – a company/battalion tactical group from the 19th motorized rifle brigade (military unit No. 20634, Vladikavkaz, Northern Ossetia).
P.S. : InformNapalm team understands that after this publication the Kremlin officials will raise another hysteria over the publication of personal data on the Russian servicemen, as it was with the bomber pilots. In this case, we want to emphasize that all of the information presented by us, is the result of the study of public sources, including social networks, where imprudent Russian military left a sufficient number of traces and clues.
Other articles on this topic:
The 291st artillery brigade
- Armed Forces of Russian Federation Spotted along the Ukrainian Border and in Donbas, August 26, 2014
- Units of the Russian Armed Forces Which Have Been Deployed to Fight in Eastern Ukraine September 19, 2014
- Identification of Military Units and the Armament of Artillery Elements of the Russian Invasion Forces, September 30, 2014
- 291st artillery brigade’s “Tour of duty” from Crimea to Donbass, November 12, 2014
- Russia. Photos of Positions of Russian Artillery Shelling Ukraine in 2014, April 5, 2015
- ‘Novorossiya’ Militant’s Contract Was Finalized in Military Recruiting Office of Volgograd, Russia, October 7, 2015
- Russia Began a Concealed Ground Operation in Syria, October 29, 2015
Syrian assignment of the Russian forces (without aviation component)
- Russian Military Assignment from Novorossiysk to Syria, September 4, 2015
- Russian ‘Solntsepyok’ Heavy Flamethrower Systems Were Noticed in Syria, October 12, 2015
- Russia Began a Concealed Ground Operation in Syria, October 29, 2015
- https://informnapalm.org/en/russia-s-minister-of-defense-shoygu-sent-his-countrymen-to-syria/, November 2, 2015
- It Is Hard To Survive in Syria Without A Passport. Russian 28th Brigade in Syria, November 10, 2015
- Russia Mired in the Ground Operation in Syria. Russian Servicemen Are in Hama Province, November 10, 2015
- Russian Marines of the Baltic Fleet’s 336th Brigade Got Lost in As-Suwayda Province, Syria, November 17, 2015
- Russia Deploys Another Military Base in Syria December 1, 2015
- War in Syria: Russia Paved Its Way to the Ground Operation Through the Sea, December 2, 2015
More articles about ‘Syria‘ on InformNapalm
Original article translated by Stepan Grishin