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DAMASCUS, Syria – It is known as the Zaslon Special Forces unit attached to Russian SVR, or Foreign Intelligence Service, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Zaslon, meaning “Shield,” was established in 1998 to perform covert missions abroad from hostage rescues to assassinations and whatever other SVR operations may be under way in the world.
It is said to be as well-equipped as the legendary Alfa and Vympel Russian commandos and trained for all contingencies.
Its personnel are on duty around the clock and don’t inform other Russian Special services of their missions.
The highly secret unit completely shuns publicity. Consequently, not much is known about members, said to number some 280.
Now, sources within Syria say elements of the unit have been dispatched to that country. The Zaslon units may have been sent to guard Russian nationals, including the Russian embassy in Damascus.
The unit also is prepared to escort Russian and high-level Syrian government officials out of Syria and is prepared to destroy sensitive documents and high-technology equipment if the rebels advance on Damascus and cannot be halted by Syrian military troops.
The Russians do not want their military technology or sensitive documents captured. They certainly would be of utmost interest to Western intelligence services.
In preparing for the worst in Syria, Moscow reportedly has dispatched a small Russian naval force into the Mediterranean Sea with a contingent of 300 naval infantry marines, as well as empty troopships which may be on hand to evacuate Russian nationals.
Most likely, any Russian evacuation would be through the Russian naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus.
Dispatch of the Zaslon Special Forces unit is expected first to strengthen security at the Russian embassy in Damascus and form a security ring around the Russian military and technical advisers now in the country.
This isn’t the first time that a Zaslon unit has been dispatched to Damascus. Last year, one provided security for former SVR director Mikhail Fradkov when he visited there.
Given the mounting concern for the Jabhat al-Nusra group, an offshoot of al-Qaida from Iraq and comprised of other foreign nationals, the Zaslon unit also may be used to target key personnel within that Sunni Islamist militant group.
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