On October 5, Arabi Today news website released a story providing some details how the two Russians were captured by ISIS on September 29. The info was allegedly provided to the website by a soldier of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
The captured Russians were private military contractors [PMCs] or volunteers operating on the side of Damascus government, according to different sources.
Roman Zabolotniy (born – 1979) and Grigory Surkanov (born – 1978) in a video released by the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq:
The SAA soldier claimed that he was a member of SAA unit that was moving to al-Shula village via the Al-Sukhnah-Deir Ezzor highway. The unit was allegedly supported by 10 Russian PMCs to carry out an unspecified operation against ISIS.
The soldier said that they were in 2 military vehicles and 2 buses on the highway when ISIS fighters started shelling them with heavy machine guns from the south of the highway. Later around 30 ISIS fighters attacked the buses from the north of the highway. The both buses were destroyed and blocked the highway according to the soldier.
After this the remaining SAA soldiers tried to repelled the ISIS attack supported by the 10 PMC fighters that, according to the soldier, “instead of withdrawing and leaving us alone to fight, they took a position behind a bream on the side of the road and engaged in the clashes against ISIS“.
The SAA soldier said that the clashes with ISIS was not fair as there was over 80 ISIS fighters involved in the attack against the pro-government fighters.
“After this we run out of ammo, and the Russian fighters too apparently because I didn’t hear any more shoots from the position where they were. After minutes I heard screams, it seems that there was a fight with cold weapons. However, it looks like the number difference was not on the side of the Russian fighters,” the SAA soldier said according to Arabi Today.
The SAA soldier said that he owes his life to the PMC fighters. He added that he doesn’t believe that he would have survived it was not for their sacrifice.
The story includes some statements that could be true, like the place and the time of the ISIS ambush. However, it’s still almost impossible to verify and confirm this story as Arabi Today didn’t provide the name of the SAA soldier.