25th Special Mission Forces Division

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25th Special Mission Forces Division
Syrian commando.png
Logo of the Syrian Special Forces, used by the 25th Special Mission Forces Division
CountrySyria Syrian Arab Republic
AllegianceSyrian Arab Republic
Branch Syrian Army
TypeSpecial forces
RoleAir assault
Close-quarters combat
Direct action
Fire support
Guerrilla warfare
Special operations
Special reconnaissance
Unconventional warfare
Urban warfare
SizeBrigade plus: 4,000[1]
Part of5th Corps[citation needed]
Nickname(s)Tiger Forces or Quwwat Al-Nimr (Arabic: قوات النمر)
EquipmentAK-74M rifles
T-90 tanks
Rys LMV tactical vehicle
Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan

The 25th Special Mission Forces Division, mostly known by their former name Tiger Forces or Quwwat al-Nimr (Arabic: قُوَّات النِّمْر), is an elite formation (special forces unit) of the Syrian Arab Army which functions primarily as an offensive unit in the Syrian Civil War. It has been described as a "hot commodity for any government offensive", but their relatively small numbers make it difficult to deploy them to multiple fronts at once.[2]


The special forces unit was formed during the Syrian civil war.

According to Gregory Waters, the Tiger Forces are operated by the Air Force Intelligence Directorate.[1]p. 2[3] After successful operations in Latakia and Hama,[1]p. 2 Colonel Suheil al-Hassan was tasked a special project by the Syrian Armed Forces Central Command in the fall of 2013—to train and lead a Special Forces unit that would work primarily as an offensive unit. Colonel Hassan handpicked many of the soldiers that would later form the Tiger Forces.[4] Initially, the unit was formed by recruiting personnel from the 53rd Regiment (part of Special Forces Command) and the 14th Special Forces Division, on the other hand, heavy equipment was supplied by the 4th and 11th Divisions.[5]

On 25 December 2015, Suheil al-Hassan was promoted to major general after refusing to be brigadier general the year before.[6] He played a key role in commanding Syrian troops during the 2016 Aleppo campaign. The Tiger Forces were tasked with cutting the key rebel supply lines to Aleppo city.

In early spring 2015, following Syrian government's loss of the city of Idlib, the unit was reorganised.[1]p. 3 The Tiger Forces were one of few in the Syrian Army to first deploy Russian T-90 tanks,[7] others being the 4th Armoured Division and Desert Hawks Brigade.[8][9] A Russian-supplied Rys LMV was seen after defeating ISIL in the village of Ayn Al-Hanish in the Dayr Hafir Plains.[10]

The most famous and effective tactic of the Tiger Forces is probing the enemy from multiple axes to find a weak spot, then sending a large mechanized force to that area to capture many villages at once.[11] According to Gregory Waters, they ultimately report to Major General Jamil Hassan, the director of the country's Air Force Intelligence Directorate.[12]

In September/October 2018, reports indicated that between 6,500 and 8,000 Tiger Forces members will be demobilized.[13][14]

It's reported that the unit works closely with Russian KSSO units, the latter acting as advisors.[15]

Renaming and reorganization[edit]

On 29 August 2019, the Syrian Government reorganized the unit, renaming it from Tiger Forces to 25th Special Mission Forces Division and placing it under the Syrian Army's central command, while keeping Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan as its commanding officer.[16][17]

In March 2022, the Wagner Group began recruiting ex-members of the 25th Special Mission Forces Division so that they could fight for Russia in the Russo-Ukrainian War.[18]


According to Gregory Waters for the Middle East Institute in October 2018,[1] the Tiger Forces deploy approximately 24 groups (halfway between a company and a battalion), which organise about 4,000 infantry, as well as an attached artillery regiment and an armoured unit.[1]p. 6 Alongside permanent troops, the Tiger Forces make use of affiliated militia, who remain largely garrisoned in their hometowns until called on to join offensives as the need arises.

List of subordinate units in 2018[edit]

Later reports seem to suggest an altered internal structure, stating that the unit consists of the following subunits:[19][20]

  • Termah (or Tarmeh) Group/Regiment:[21] according opposition sources has a strength of about 2,000 troops, recruited from northern Hama.[1]p. 6
  • Taha Group,[22] officially "Taha Regiment – Assault." It is an assault unit formed in 2014, and is led by Ali Taha. The unit claimed to have 2,500 active members by mid-2018.[23]
  • Yarrob Group/Regiment
  • Shaheen Group/Regiment[24]
  • Shabaat Group/Regiment
  • Al Hawarith Group/Regiment (Navaris Group)[25]
  • Zaydar Group/Regiment
  • Al Shabbour Group/Regiment
  • Al-Komeet Group/Regiment[26]
  • Al-Luyouth Group/Regiment (Shadi Group)[25]
  • Hayder Group/Regiment
  • Raqqa Hawks Brigade[27][28] (not to be confused with the Syrian Democratic Forces' Raqqa Hawks Brigade)

The Tiger Forces consisted of as many as 24 subgroups of varying size. Tiger Forces groups/subunits were founded by prominent individuals who often also served as commanders of a particular group (the group often bearing the name of the individual who founded and/or commanded the group).[1]

Cheetah Forces[edit]

Cheetah Forces[29] or Qawat al-Fahoud (قوات الفهود)[30] as of October 2018 is the largest sub-unit of the Tiger Forces.[1]p. 8 The Cheetah Forces is subdivided into as many as 14 Company-level units: Cheetah 1 to Cheetah 10, Cheetah 15, Cheetah 16, Cheetah 41 and the 2nd Storming Battalion (Rami Hamadi Group).[1]p. 8 Cheetah 6 were the first soldiers that ended the 35-month long Relieving of Kuweires Military Airbase,[31][32] while Cheetah 3 along with the Desert Hawks Brigade completed the East Aleppo ISIS encirclement.[33]

The current commander is Brigadier General Ali Ahmed Kna’an al-Hajji[1]p. 11 and the deputy commander is Colonel Lu’ayy Sleitan.[29]

Panther Forces[edit]

Panther Forces[34] – According to Leith Fadel in 2016, the commander was Colonel Ali Shaheen,[35] and they were involved in the Palmyra offensive (March 2016), where they were redeployed to another front after it was over.[34][35] According to Waters, the "Panther Groups" are actually the Cheetahs, and are not commanded by Ali Shaheen, who instead commands the Leouth Groups.[12]

Armour and artillery units[edit]

The Tiger Forces have a dedicated artillery regiment (led by Lieutenant Colonel Dourid Awad) and an armoured unit; both the artillery and armoured units appear to be distinct entities within the Tiger Forces.[1]p. 6

Both the artillery and armoured units are independent from other groups, reporting directly to the Tiger Forces’ command. The size of the armoured unit is unknown.

Affiliated militia units[edit]

The Tiger Forces regular groups have local defensive units, as well as operational units which deploy across the country.[1]p. 6 According Gregory Waters, the operational units outside standing groups make up one-and-a-half to two brigades.[1]p. 6

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Waters, Gregory (October 2018). THE TIGER FORCES (PDF). Middle East Institute. p. 2,3,6. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  2. ^ Leith Fadel (10 November 2015). "Exclusive: Tiger Forces to Redeploy to Northern Hama". Al-Masdar News. Archived from the original on 16 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Assad Regime Militias and Shi'ite Jihadis in the Syrian Civil War". 30 November 2016.
  4. ^ Leith Fadel (26 February 2015). "Who is Colonel Suheil al-Hassan of the Tiger Forces?". Al-Masdar News. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  5. ^ "The Lion and the Eagle: The Syrian Arab Army's Destruction and Rebirth".
  6. ^ Leith Fadel (15 December 2015). "Prominent Tiger Forces Commander Promoted to Major General". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  7. ^ Leith Fadel (28 May 2016). "Tiger Forces mobilize T-90 tanks for upcoming Aleppo offensive". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  8. ^ Leith Fadel (23 January 2016). "Convoy of Russian T-90 tanks arrive in southern Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  9. ^ Chris Tomson (31 October 2016). "VIDEO: Syrian Army deploys T-90 tanks in the battle for Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  10. ^ Leith Fadel (26 January 2016). "Tiger Forces continue encirclement of ISIS in east Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  11. ^ Izat Charkatli (24 May 2017). "Syrian Army on verge of kicking ISIS out of Aleppo province: Map Update". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b Waters, Gregory (23 July 2018). "Tiger Forces, Part 1: The War Crimes of the "Cheetah" Groups". International Review. International Review. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Source: The "Tiger" Cancels the Contracts of 6500 of Its Troops throughout Syria". Enab Baladi. 20 September 2018.
  14. ^ "As large reinforcements are sent to the west of Euphrates and preparations underway for the demobilization of thousands of Tiger Troops, the Syrian regime's head issues a decree to fill the forces of its army". The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 9 October 2018.
  15. ^ Neville 2019, p. 194.
  16. ^ "Assad Disbands Makhlouf Militias, Renames 'Tiger Forces'". Asharq AL-awsat. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Syrian Army begins 2nd phase of Idlib offensive, several areas captured". Al-Masdar News. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  18. ^ Andrew McGregor (7 April 2022). "Russia's Broken Steamroller: Why the Structure of the Russian Army Prevents Victory in Ukraine". Aberfoyle International Security. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Syrian army prepares for post-conflict challenges" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 November 2017.
  20. ^ "A statistical breakdown of army losses in recent southern Raqqa fighting with ISIS". al-Masdar. 31 July 2017. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  21. ^ "First footage of the Syrian Army's Tiger Forces destroying jihadist militias in Hama". al-Masdar. 27 December 2017.
  22. ^ "Farsnews". en.farsnews.com.
  23. ^ Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (7 July 2018). "The Southern Campaign: Interview with the Tiger Forces' Taha Regiment". Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Syrian special forces leave west Palmyra for east Aleppo". al-Masdar. 11 February 2017. Archived from the original on 2 May 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  25. ^ a b https://www.facebook.com/SYRIAN.SYriaRealInfosAndNews/videos/syrian-armys-tiger-forces_-history-and-capabilities/348833845868494/[user-generated source]
  26. ^ "Large number of Syrian Army reinforcements sent to Idlib". AMN – Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 16 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  27. ^ "السويداء: "فاطميون" و"النمر" و"حزب الله" لقيادة معركة درعا" [As-Suwayda: Fatimion, Al-Nimr and Hezbollah to lead the battle of Daraa]. Almodon (in Arabic). 26 June 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  28. ^ "ريف حماة: مليشيات النظام مشغولة بالتعفيش!" [Hama countryside: the regime's militias are busy with Altafish!]. Almodon (in Arabic). 17 May 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  29. ^ a b Leith Fadel (19 October 2015). "Cheetah Forces Capture 30km of Territory from ISIS in East Aleppo: Kuweires Airport Within Sight". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  30. ^ "The Russian Deployment in Syria and Iraq Makes Its Presence Felt" (PDF). Files.ethz.ch. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  31. ^ Chris Tomson (11 November 2015). "Syrian Army and Hezbollah Advance in Southern and Eastern Aleppo – Latest Map Update". Al-Masdar News. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  32. ^ Leith Fadel (10 November 2015). "Cheetah Forces Lift the Three Year Long Siege of the Kuweires Military Airbase". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  33. ^ Leith Fadel (20 February 2016). "Tiger Forces complete the east Aleppo encirclement: 800+ ISIS fighters trapped". Al-Masdar News. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  34. ^ a b Leith Fadel (5 March 2016). "Russian Air Force hammers ISIS' oil routes in east Homs as the Syrian Army advances on Palmyra". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  35. ^ a b Leith Fadel (18 April 2016). "Syrian Army cancels the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor offensive". Al-Masdar News. Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2016.


  • Neville, Leigh (2019). The Elite: The A–Z of Modern Special Operations Forces. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1472824295.

Further reading[edit]