Russian premier, Vladimir Putin is not taking any chances in his quest to subdue the revolution against Bashaar al-Assad’s tyrannical regime and in a bid to make sure that things do not go south for Kremlin in any way imaginable, has sent the mysterious SEAL team 6 to make sure everything goes to plan.
It is quite natural for any country to have an insurance policy when it comes to war. And although it is the Russian Air Force and its ensuing strikes that are making the headlines these past few days, it appears that the pilots are not in Syrian territory on their own.
Aware of the fact that United States might pose a challenge to Russian efficiency in the war-torn country, Russia has made sure that the high-tech fighter jets are covered by all means necessary.
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If the precision striking from the air was not enough, it appears that Putin is set to go all out in a bid to further his interests and keeping in tandem with his goals, the ex KGB agent has a rather grim insurance policy for Assad in case things do go south.
Should push come to shove, Russia will be calling on agents with Zaslon, or “Screen”, an ultra-secret group of special operatives who are believed to have been operating in the country for a really long time.
Just like their American counterparts, Russians also have a thing for making their elite military squads sound glamorous. However, this particular unit, the Zaslon, doesn’t exist officially even though it is under the government’s payroll.
A shady group of elite agents
For years, Kremlin has denied the existence of this group but it appears that the secret is out following the publication of a new article by authors Mark Galeotti and Jonathan Spyer in Jane’s Intelligence Review.
A professor at New York University and an expert on Russian special operation forces, Galoetti wrote the section on Zaslon and has an excerpt of the article on his blog.
The Zaslon reports directly to the Kremlin’s Foreign Intelligence Service but conducts its affairs in Syria separately from the Main Intelligence Directorate, more commonly referred to as GRU. Unlike the GRU agents, who work in the Syrian defense ministry in Damascus, Zaslon is a “small special forces team … reporting neither to the GRU or to regular military cells, but instead to the Russian embassy on Omar Ben Al Khattab Street,” according to Galeotti.
So what is it that the Zaslon actually do?
According to Galeotti, this shady group of elite agents might be serving as advisors to Syrian military and government officials while also reporting back to Moscow. However, they definitely have another job to do for which they have been trained.
Putin’s Plan B?
Should the regime breakdown, it will be the Zaslon’s responsibility to protect, rescue or seize Russian nationals, assets and intelligence documents in the country or whatever it is that is needed to be done in order to make sure that Moscow does not end up in an embarrassing position.
Galeotti also claims that this is the same shady group that was very much active in Baghdad during the final days of Saddam Hussein‘s regime. Their main role was to either retrieve or destroy documentation that could be traced back to the Kremlin by falling into American hands while also making sure that key Russian assets are not affected by the ensuing Syrian war in any way possible.
“The last time I heard with any confidence of Zaslon being deployed (other than a few individuals in extreme diplomatic protection missions) was to Baghdad in the final days of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Then, their role was to secure (retrieve or destroy) particular documents, military tech and whatever else Moscow wanted to ensure did not end up in American hands. It could be that, as higher tech Russian kit begins to bolster the regime’s capabilities, Zaslon is being deployed again as a precautionary measure.”
Nobody knows the exact origins of this group of individuals with unique skill sets but it is said that this branch was created back in 1998 and was rigorously trained to operate abroad and deals in everything from hostage rescue missions to assassinations without leaving any clues on the carpet. Moreover, the Zaslon works as a true shadow group with no one ever knowing who the operatives are and where they are getting their orders from.