There was a story of a military fight between some paid Russian mercenaries and the US after the Russians tried to storm a base in Syria. It got a bit of press because there were mass Russian casualties but not enough press for the right reasons..it's a gigantic sham
This reminds me of two decades ago when I was doing some white collar boxing. Basically a way to get into shape for a bunch of corporate nerds but we were doing it at a legit boxing gym.
At one point they put on a showcase, basically a method to make money for the gym and show off their 'professional' fighters (guys making like $500-$1000 per fight). They put me up against another white collar guy in the heavyweight division (I was a slob back then). Gave us three rounds but we're instructed that I would win the second round and half of the third and the other guy would win the first and the other half of the third, so it ended in a draw
we threw a few punches, I ate some leather, I didn't land much, did a lot of holding and grabbing and at the end the audience probably left disappointed but at least the appearance was a heavyweight fight. It was all a -poorly- choreographed show and the audience was none the wiser.
That's what's happening with these quasi fights in Syria. Putin sends in some paid mercenaries to cause trouble, the US takes them out. Trump looks like he is aggressive, Putin wipes his hands clean because this was the equivalent of Blackwater and everybody moves on with only the cost of a few hundred dead Russians. So everybody wins