BESLAN, NORTH OSSETIA, 2004
Russian Special Forces Tank Raid September 3, 2004, Russian Special Forces performed an assault on the school #1 in Beslan (North Ossetia) to release hostages taken by 32 Chechen terrorists on Sep 1.
In total, about 1100 men were taken hostage.
I don’t want to discuss the whole operation, but touch only armor usage.
During the assault Russian SF used 8 BTR-80s and 3 T-72 tanks from the Russian military base in Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).
The usage of the armor is still not really detailed as witness accounts differ one from another.
It is clear that BTRs were used mostly as moving pillboxes giving much needed armor protection to the Russian troops and hostages.
At least two used their heavy MGs to suppress terrorist fire at the higher stores of the school. Some accounts mentioned poor performance of BTR crews.
The tanks were used at the final stage when all the surviving hostages were evacuated (reportedly).
‘325’ tank fired 7 HE rounds at the spotted terrorist positions; another two, ‘320’ and ‘328’, did not fire at all.
The guidance was done by SF officers. It is not known what were the results of the fire but according to the SF team members, the tank was effective to suppress terrorist fire and avoided additional casualties.
At least one RPG round was fired at the tanks but missed.
Need to say that the usage of tanks caused many speculations and allegations towards Russian troops.
In any case there is no single opinion, according to the 58th Army CO, the usage of tanks was not necessary.
In total 333 died, including 186 children. Most of the hostages were killed before the assault began.
Lastly, 31 terrorists were killed, one taken alive. 10 SF members, 8 rescue team members and one policeman lost their lives during the operation.