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Private military companies: Moscow’s other army in Syria

To compensate for troop reductions in Syria, Russia is deploying an array of corporate-organized mercenaries.

Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, attracted public attention when on Nov. 23 he said Moscow plans to withdraw some of its troops from Syria by the end of the year, with armed clashes becoming less frequent and negotiations proceeding toward resolution of the civil war. To avoid potential security losses or retreats, however, Russia will outsource the work to private military companies (PMCs) with tactical warfare capabilities equivalent to modern militaries.

It is more accurate to say, however, that Russia will be outsourcing additional work to PMCs, as it has employed them in Syria since 2013. There has been no shortage of reports in the international media since 2016 about Russia's private contractors being killed in clashes.

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