Suhail Muhammad Hamoud
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|Suhail Muhammad Hamoud|
|Native name||سهيل محمد حمود|
|Born||1989 (age 28–29)|
Syrian opposition (2011–2016)
Free Syrian Army (2011–2016)
|Years of service||?–2011; 2011–2016|
Suhail Mohammed Hamoud (Arabic: سهيل محمد حمود), also known as Abu TOW (Arabic: أبو تاو), is a former Free Syrian Army rebel famed for his skill in operating the BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile during the Syrian Civil War.
Before the start of the Syrian Civil War, Suhail served in the Syrian Arab Army, which he defected from in 2011 to join the opposition. After joining the rebels, he participated in the battles in Idlib Governorate, including on Jabal Zawiya.
In a 2016 interview with al-Monitor, he said, "I was trained in the Syrian army to use the Russian Malyutka and red-arrow anti-armor missiles, which are not so different from the TOW missiles but do not enjoy the same precision, so I gained experience in dealing with all anti-shield missiles both in terms of structure and trajectory and regardless of their points of strength or weakness." Elaborating on his success with anti-tank missiles, he said, "I destroyed around 70 targets, of which 57 machineries were destroyed through TOW missiles and 11 machineries through the Malyutka missiles. These targets included planes, tanks, armored vehicles and armored personnel carriers in addition to DShK machine guns."
Before joining the Sham Legion, he was a fighter in the Hazzm Movement and later the 101st Infantry Division, the 1st Coastal Division and 13th Division. All of these groups have received support from the United States, including with provisions of BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles. All of these groups are mainstream, non-sectarian rebel factions under the brand of the Free Syrian Army.
“From the beginning, Suhail was known for his hatred of Nusra Front,” according to his friend Ahmad Barakat, interviewed by The Daily Beast. He was protected from being kidnapped by Nusra, “because of his popularity and his great effect on the battlefield … Regime troops used to get scared when they heard Abu TOW was participating in a battle; this was something we would hear on the wireless handhelds.” According to Barakat, Abu TOW has been the subject of several assassination attempts by the al-Nusra Front.
In April or May 2017, Suhail uploaded pictures of himself smoking in front of a Tahrir al-Sham sign which stated "Smoking is haram". He uploaded another picture of him with duct tape in front of an HTS sign saying "No to a truce because it is sedition". While driving in the village of Ihsim, he was arrested by HTS. When he went to the HTS police in the village of Marayan the following day, he was accused of “derision of religion.” He was arrested by the HTS security branch and taken to a prison. An attempt by a delegation of Hamoud’s Sham Legion fighters to negotiate his release was unsuccessful. Hammoud’s relative was told was that he would appear before an HTS judge.
Leaders of several Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups have privately petitioned HTS to release Hammoud.
- Thaer al-Tahli (17 November 2016). "The Story of a Fighter… Sohail Abu Al-Taw: Only the TOW missiles are capable of damaging and stopping the Assad's machine of destruction in my country". RFS Media Office.
- Asaad Hanna (2015-11-20). "Despite Russian airstrikes, FSA continues to confront regime". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
- "Syria rebels arrest renowned fighter over 'mocking Instagram posts'". The New Arab. 5 May 2017.
- 05.06.17 8:43 AM ET (6 May 2017). "The Rebel Who Defied Jihadists By Smoking". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-05-07.