By Patrick BAHZAD
Amid wide speculations about Russian troops' and logicistics' moves to and from Syria, the director of French "Direction du Renseignement Militaire" (DRM) - the counterpart to America's DIA - went on the record on Friday, stating that "cool heads need to prevail with regard to Russian involvement in Syria".
Speaking at a conference about "Intelligence and Geolocation", General Gomart emphasized that it was important to "let reason prevail" and that some of the most recent news published in various media outlets were subject to a risk of "intelligence manipulation". According to General Gomart, some "95 % of intelligence is based on open sources of all kinds", which means the real worry is the reliability of this information.
This applies also to most pieces published in recent days about the Russian presence in Syria. As a comparison, General Gomart went as far as giving the example of Ukraine in 2014, when a wealth of stories surfaced, forecasting a Russian invasion before the end of the summer. Photographs of Russian units allegedly operating on the Ukrainian border, or already inside the country, had been published repeatedly, together with stories about a "pre-invasion" military build-up.
According to the director of French DRM, these stories had blown the reality on the ground totally out of proportion, with no "logistics" such as field hospitals or fuel pipelines actually being provided for. The number of "heavy armour" also proved to be greatly exaggerated. Furthermore, and contrary to stories about large numbers of Russian soldiers coming home in "body bags", monitoring of social media revealed no increase in traffic, nor any uptake in messages confirming or even suggesting an increase in combat related deaths.