4th Armoured Division (Syria)

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4th Armoured Division
الفرقة الرابعة
T-72 Ajeya1.jpg
T-72s, usually reinforced with Reactive armour, form the backbone of the division's firepower.
Active 1984 – present
Country  Syria
Allegiance Coat of arms of Syria.svg Syrian Government
Branch Syrian Army
Type Armoured Division
Role Shock troops
Size ~ 14,000[1][2]
Garrison/HQ Damascus
Equipment T-72 tanks
Mil Mi-24

Syrian uprising

Current Commander Maher al-Assad (de facto)[5]
Maj. Gen. Mohamed Ali Durgham (de jure)
Reserve Bureau Commander Gen. Ghassan Belal[6]
Brigade Commanders Maher al-Assad (42nd Brigade)
Brig. Gen. Jawdat Ibrahim Safi (154th Regiment)
Brig. Gen. Jamal Yunes (555th Regiment)[7]
Hayel al-Assad (Military Police Commander)[8]
Kifah Moulhem

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


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.[10]

The Division is regarded by some as the best trained and best equipped of the Syrian Army.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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

Role in the civil war[edit]

Main article: Syrian civil war

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,[14] with the officers sent from the division relying on the divisions 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.[15] 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 states that Maher has been commanding troops in the Aleppo and Homs theatre of operations.[16]


The division is widely hated by the Syrian Sunni majority for its perceived brutality, its current role in the Syrian security apparatus, and the role played by its predecessor in the Hama massacre.[17]