Today CIA Director Mike Pompeo sat before the U.S. Senate to be confirmed as the next Secretary of State. He had bipartisan support and was confirmed as CIA director last year, but there are a few grandstanding detractors, namely Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul who has vowed to filibuster his appointment.
As this is all likely theater and Pompeo will be confirmed, the only real news to come from the hearing was the confirmation of the Battle of Deir ez-Zor. The shootout was between American Special Forces and Syrian Democratic Forces and Russian Mercenaries of Wagner Security and militia fighters loyal to Bashar Al Assad. It lasted a little over three hours and when the smoke cleared hundreds of mercenaries and militia fighters, some rumored to be Hezbollah, lay dead on the wrong side of the Euphrates River.
!!! Pompeo just confirmed “a couple hundred Russians were killed” in #Syria in shout-out involving US forces. US Defense officials have so far refused to do so publicly.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) April 12, 2018
Reports were all over social media when the fight took place but the Russians initially denied even having mercenaries in Syria at all. Eventually, the questions from the families of the slain Russians were too loud to ignore and Russia finally admitted they had mercenaries in Syria when they did not deny mercenaries were leaving Syria.
Russian private military contractors on the move: Damascus based Cham Wing Airlines jet, owned by Issam Shammout, – @USTreasury OFAC/SDN listed since 21/5/15-, flew from Damascus to Rostov-on-Don Platov Int Apt via Iraqi, Iranian (Lake Urmia), Armenian & Georgian airspace 03:00Z pic.twitter.com/R4I7PRjEVu
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) April 10, 2018
This is a significant swipe from Pompeo who is not known to be a fan of Russia or their president Vladimir Putin. Confirming this quietly reminds the Russians and everyone else in the region that the United States is operating from a position of strength.
The United States doesn’t have to strike Assad, nor does it have to leave eastern Syria if it doesn’t feel like it. This confirmation of the lop-sided battle was not an accident, slip, or leak. Pompeo wanted the Russians to know he, the Director of the CIA, confirmed it on live television under oath.