More on Russian Body Counts

Don’t have any resolution on the casualty counts for the fighting on 7 February, but do have a few additional newspaper reports of interest:

  1. The Guardian reposts that the Russian foreign ministry reports that dozens were killed or wounded.
    1. So, if 9 were killed (a figure that is probably the lowest possible count), then you would certainly get to dozens killed or wounded. As this is a conventional fight, I would be tempted to guess a figure of 3 or 4 wounded per killed, vice the 9 or 10 wounded per killed we have been getting from our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (see War by Numbers, Chapter 15: Casualties).
    2. Guardian article is here:
    3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/20/russia-admits-several-dozen-its-citizens-killed-syria-fighting
  2. The BBC repeats these claims along with noting that “…at least 131 Russians died in Syria in the first nine months of 2017…”: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43125506
  3. Wikipedia does have an article on the subject that is worth looking at, even though its count halts on 3 February:
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Armed_Forces_casualties_in_Syria
  4. The original report was that about 100 Syrian soldiers had been killed. I still don’t know if this count of 100+ killed on 7 February is supposed to be all Russians, or a mix of Russians and Syrians. It could be possible there were 9 Russians killed and over 100 people killed. On the other hand, it could also be an inflated casualty count. See: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/world/europe/russia-syria-dead.html
  5. Some counts have gone as high as 215 Russians killed: https://thedefensepost.com/2018/02/10/russians-killed-coalition-strikes-deir-ezzor-syria/

Conclusions: A significant fight happened on 7 February, at least 9 Russians were killed and clearly several dozen wounded. It might have been over 100 killed in the fight, but we cannot find any clear confirmation of that. I am always suspicious of casualty claims, as anyone who has read my book on Kursk may note (and I think I provide plenty of examples in that book of claims that can be proven to be significantly in error).

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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