Russian Special forces
The Special Operations Forces of Russia, or SOF (Russian: Силы специальных операций; ССО) are strategic-level special forces under the Special Operations Forces Command (Russian: командование сил специальных операций; KCCO, KSSO, or KSO) of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
The first units of what would become the Special Operations Forces were transferred from the GRU in 2009 as part of the continuing 2008 Russian military reform.The Special Operations Forces Command was set up in 2012 and announced in March 2013 by the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. According to Gerasimov, the SOF was designed as a strategic-level asset, whose primary missions would be foreign interventions, including sabotage and anti-terrorism operations. SOF do not belong to any branch of the Russian armed forces and are distinct from the Special Forces of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces that until 2010 were under the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and whose subsequent subordination appears to be unclear. Russia’s SOF are manned exclusively by professional personnel hired on contract, in commissioned officer positions.
SOF operations in Syria began in January 2016 with the successful Latakia offensive. Also they played a crucial role in the Palmyra offensive, provided support to the Syrian Army attempting the recapturing of Raqqa and throughout the Syrian push for Aleppo especially in their final offensive against rebels all in the same year. They returned during the Second battle of Palmyra in 2017 and saw action throughout the year in Eastern Homs offensive, Operation Grand Dawn, East Hama offensive, Operation Khuzam and the entirety of Eastern Syria campaign. SOF contributed to the success of Rif Dimashq Governorate campaign in 2018 and participated in Operation Dawn of Idlib in 2019.