On March 2016, during the assault on the Syrian Palmyra, InformNapalm team identified a howitzer unit of the 120th Separate Artillery Brigade (military base 59361, permanent location at Yurga, Russia) of the 41th Army of the Central Military District. At the same time, Moscow officially acknowledged the death of a Russian special operations forces officer while spotting for air strikes in the Palmyra area. It is set to confirm the legend that in the battle for this area, the Russian command used only artillery, aviation and special forces units. According to the General Staff of the Russian Federation, the ground offensive was manned only by Syrian troops. This statement looks ridiculous, since, the observations of InformNapalm volunteers reveal that the area of Palmyra is controlled by a unit of the 61st Marines Brigade (military base 38643, permanent location in Murmansk oblast, Russia). This fact is easily established by looking at the photo album of Dmitry Egoshin, a contract serviceman of this brigade (profile, friends). Photographs    are conveniently geotagged, they also feature distinctive historical sights of Palmyra. Moreover, the geotags reveal the exact location of the strongpoint (coordinates 35.40810700, 36.03033200), where Egoshin had been on duty previously.We could also retrieve the unit dislocation in Palmyra (coordinates 34.55594700, 38.27559300).These pictures bring to memory a recent pitch of Putin given during his direct line session: “We had withdrawn a major part of our group alignment, but we left the Syrian army in such a state, that it was able to conduct the offensive operations and took Palmyra, with the support of our remaining forces”. We hope that readers understand exactly who led the offensive operation and took Palmyra. There remains an open question about the “state” of this group, meaning the level of training and available weaponry. We also wonder why it was the 61st Marine Brigade to control the positions, and why it participated in the storming of the city? Why not the 21th Infantry Brigade, the 28th Infantry Brigade, the 74th Infantry Brigade, the 34th Infantry Brigade, units of the 7th Russian military base or Marines from the 336th Marine Brigade or the 810th Marine Brigade, previously spotted in Syria?
It is because crucial operations are entrusted to the best trained units, preferably with combat experience. It is worth reminding, that the servicemen of the 61st Marine Brigade participated in the war in the territory of Ukraine from the summer of 2014 till February 2015, more information see our investigations “Russian Northern Fleet’s Marines in the Steppes of Donbas” or “Evidence of the Participation of the 61st Marine Brigade of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet in the Fights in Donbas”. That unit received combat the experience in the battles in the South-East of Ukraine, which it subsequently used in the missions in Syria. Based on the analysis of the profiles of the marines from the 61st Marine Brigade, the airlifting of the units to Syria began in late December 2015, it was carried out by military transport aircraft of the Russian Airforce. Those units were deployed for operational duty at the Khmeimim airbase, at the port of Tartus, on strongholds at the heights and near strategic roads. Their combat missions culminated in taking the control of Palmyra, and most probably they participated in the direct assault on the city.
Valentin Shamanin (profile, album) is an example of a serviceman in this brigade, who had received combat experience in in the South-East of Ukraine and was later sent to Syria. His photo album contains photographs taken in 2014 in the Rostov oblast, which served as the base for the raids on the territory of Ukraine. As expected, there are all the attributes of the “hybrid Russian servicemen”: non-standard military uniform with no shoulder patches, combat machinery with vehicle numbers and tactical signs painted over. And there also are newer photos from Syria uploaded in early 2016, and then promptly deleted from the album. Besides Egoshin and Shamanin, InformNapalm volunteers identified the profiles of thirty two more soldiers of the 61st Marine Brigade who took part in the Syrian mission. They too had probably participated in military aggression on the territory of Ukraine before. This will be the topic of next article devoted to the combat path of the brigade.
This publication was compiled based on the OSINT-investigation of the InformNapalm international volunteer group. (Creative Commons BY 4.0) information specially prepared for InformNapalm.org, an active link to the authors and our project is obligatory for any reprint or further use of the material.