Russian troops 'aiding search for members of failed Venezuelan coup'

Russian troops are using drones to track down members of failed Venezuelan coup, local media claims

  • At least eight Russian special forces members will be ‘operating drones to run search and patrol operations’, according to local media reports
  • An alleged deleted tweet from state military command ZODI La Guaira showed the arrival of the troops, El Nacional claimed
  • They are said to be aiding the search for further members of a failed coup on Venezuela in which 31 have already been arrested
  • Another alleged tweet showed an aircraft said to have arrived at the country’s international airport on Thursday that would join the search mission 
  • ZODI La Guaira said Saturday that the command ‘categorically denies interference by the Russian military’ 

Russian soldiers are operating drones over Venezuela as part of a search operation for members of a paramilitary force that led a botched coup this week, local media reported on Friday.

Local news outlet El Nacional cited allegedly deleted tweets from state military command ZODI La Guaira center as they reported that at least eight Russian special forces members will be ‘operating drones to run search and patrol operations’ near La Guaira, the coastal state just north of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital. 

Screenshots of the tweet allege to show pictures of the arrival of the forces on Thursday, featuring a group of men huddled in military uniform and wearing face mask. 

ZODI La Guaira on Saturday posted a tweet saying the command ‘categorically denies interference by the Russian military’ in its ranks. 

Local Venezuelan publication El Nacional claim the pictures above were posted and then deleted by state military command ZODI La Guaira center as they reported that at least eight Russian special forces members will be ‘operating drones to run search and patrol operations’ for further members of a failed attempt to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro 

The post included a screenshot of a tweet from Twitter user @YourNewsAnonLat about Russia’s alleged support, saying the claim was ‘Fake News’.

It did not address the screenshots of the previous alleged tweets from the account as published in El Nacional.

According to the apparent tweet screenshots, ZODI La Guaira reported the arrival of the Russian forces. 

In a separate tweet, the center wrote that an aircraft arrived at the country’s international airport on Thursday that would join the search mission, posting a photo of a helicopter. 

El Nacional said that tweet was also later deleted.

The aircraft’s origin and why the tweets were deleted was not immediately evident.

The information ministry did not immediately reply to a request for clarification, according to Reuters.

Even though the Venezuelan coup orchestrated by former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau was broadly considered a humiliating failure since authorities initially announced it had been broken up on Sunday, organizers in subsequent days have said members of the force continued to fight.

In this second tweet, El Nacional claim the military center wrote that an aircraft arrived at the country’s international airport on Thursday that would join the search mission 

ZODI La Guaira on Saturday posted a tweet saying the command ‘categorically denies interference by the Russian military’ in its ranks and branded El Nacional as fake news

There has, however, been no evidence of any military actions on the part of the group since Sunday.

Thirty-one people have been arrested for their role in the bungled incursion, Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab said on Friday, including two Americans who work for the security firm that organized it, Silvercorp USA.

Authorities said eight people were killed.

The two captured Americans appeared together in court for the first time on Friday and were charged with ‘terrorism, conspiracy, illicit trafficking of weapons of war and (criminal) association’.  

Former Green Berets Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, could face up to 30 years in prison, said Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab. 

Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, appeared together in court for the first time on Friday and were charged with terrorism and conspiracy for their role in the failed Venezuelan coup

Denman and Berry appeared on state television in Venezuela on Wednesday and Thursday, saying they had been tasked by Goudreau’s Florida-based company Silvercorp with taking control of the Caracas airport in order to fly out President Nicolás Maduro after his planned seizure by the group.

On Friday, Venezuela requested the extradition of Goudreau, who has claimed responsibility for the plan, and two U.S.-based Venezuelans for their roles in the failed incursion.

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