4th Armoured Division (Syria)

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4th Armoured Division
الفرقة الرابعة
Syrian-4thDIV-TRF.svg
Divisional tactical color marking.
Active1984 – present
Country Syria
AllegianceCoat of arms of Syria.svg Syrian Government
Branch Syrian Army
TypeArmoured division
RoleShock troops
Size~ 14,000 (2012)[1][2]
Garrison/HQDamascus
EquipmentT-72 tanks
SAMs
Mil Mi-24
EngagementsSyrian Civil War
Commanders
Current CommanderMaher al-Assad (de facto)[5]
Maj. Gen. Mohamed Ali Durgham (de jure)
Reserve Bureau CommanderGen. Ghassan Belal[6]
Brigade CommandersMaher al-Assad (42nd Brigade)
Brig. Gen. Jawdat Ibrahim Safi (154th Regiment)
Brig. Gen. Jamal Yunes (555th Regiment)[7]
Hayel al-Assad (Military Police Commander)[6]
Kifah Moulhem

The 4th Armoured Division (Arabic: الفرقة الرابعة‎ Al-Firqa ar-Rābiʿah) is an elite formation of the Syrian Army whose primary purpose is to defend the Syrian government from internal and external threats.

History[edit]

The division has its roots in the Defense Companies commanded by Rifaat al-Assad. After Rifaat was banished from Syria in 1984, the Defense Companies were reorganised into the 569th Armoured Division, and then later into the 4th Armoured Division.[9]

The Division is regarded by some as the best trained and best equipped of the Syrian Army.[10] The 4th Armoured Division, the Republican Guard, and Syria's secret police form the heart of the country's security forces. As a result, the Division is drawn mostly from members of the same Alawite group as the Assad family.[11] About 80 percent of the division's soldiers and officers are Alawites and nearly 90 percent of them are career soldiers, in contrast to the conscripts who comprise most of the army's other units.[12]

The Division has a military base in the South of Damascus, which covers about 91 square kilometres (35 sq mi) and includes several mountain bunkers. Its main entrance gate is located next to a village called Al Horjelah.

Battle Order[edit]

4th Armoured Division Shoulder Markings
  • 40th Armored Brigade
  • 41st Armored Brigade
  • 42nd Armored Brigade
  • 138th Mechanized Brigade
  • 154th Artillery Regiment
  • 63rd Artillery Regiment
  • 555th Special Forces Regiment (Airborne)
  • Protective Lions (Commandos), formed in May 2014.

Role in the civil war[edit]

During the Syrian uprising, the 4th Armoured Division has played a key role in attempting to put down the uprising, being sent to quell protests in the southern city of Daraa, the coastal city of Banias, the central province of Homs and the northern province of Idlib. Alawite officers from the 4th Armoured Division have been sent to other formations within the Syrian army in an attempt by the government to keep a closer eye and firmer grip on many Sunni dominated formations,[13] with the officers sent from the division relying on the division's fearsome reputation to keep soldiers in line.

Both the division as a whole and its component parts have been accused of engaging in human rights abuses during the Syrian uprising, such as arbitrary arrests and beatings, and the shooting of unarmed protesters.[14] Their use by the Syrian government in the uprising has led to many of the division's commanders being subject to EU sanctions and travel bans.

Coordinates: 33°22′1.91″N 36°18′29.22″E / 33.3671972°N 36.3081167°E / 33.3671972; 36.3081167

A July 2013 report by a pro-government websites stated that Maher al-Assad had been commanding troops in the Aleppo and Homs theatre of operations.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Syrian rebel leader to Haaretz: Assad's opposition will secure chemical weapons". Haaretz. 28 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Kofi Annan's plan is destined to fail". CNN. 27 March 2012.
  3. ^ "Syria's army holds the key to Assad regime's future". Channel 4 News.
  4. ^ "Elite Syrian troops sent to embattled Homs". AlertNet. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  5. ^ "US imposes sanctions against Syria's intelligence service, officials". Sify News.
  6. ^ a b "Council Regulation concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria and repealing Regulation (EU) No 442/2011".
  7. ^ "Consolidated list of financial targets in the UK".
  8. ^ http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/SyrianArmy-DocOOB.pdf
  9. ^ http://gradworks.umi.com/3330856.pdf
  10. ^ "In unending turmoil, Syria's Assad turns to family". The Guardian. London. 23 January 2008.
  11. ^ "'The enforcer' who heads Syria's dreaded army division". France 24.
  12. ^ "Syrian rebel leader to Haaretz: Assad's opposition will secure chemical weapons". Haaretz.com. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Army defectors are operating clandestinely in Damascus". Al Jazeera English.
  14. ^ "Appendix 1: Structure and Command of Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies". Human Rights Watch.
  15. ^ "Account Suspended". Retrieved 5 November 2014.