4th Armored Division
4th Armored Division was established in 1984, after the coup attempt against Hafez al-Assad.
The unit was established to protect Syria against internal and external threats and it includes one of the best equipped units of the Syrian Arab Army.
It is known that most of the commanders in the unit are former Syrian Army commanders and that 80% of the division is formed by Nusayris, the main aim of the unit is to protect the regime.
The commander is technically Major General Muhammad Ali Durgham, but Bashar al-Assad’s brother, Mahir al-Asad, acts as the commander of the division, despite his title as Commander of the 42nd Armored Brigade.
The 40th, 41st and 42nd Armored Brigades, the 138th Mechanized Brigade, the 154th Artillery Regiment and the 555th Special Forces Regiment, are considered to have around 1.500 military forces.
In Damascus, strategically located in the Mezzah military complex, the unit has taken part in many clashes with the opponents of the regime and with ISIS.
Assuming active duties in Damascus and its environs, this division strengthened its dominance in the regions such as Deraya, Mudamiye and West Gouta in 2016.
At the same time, Maher al-Assad was also held responsible for the chemical attacks in Gouta in August 2013, which caused the death of nearly 1500 people.As a matter of fact, the reports stated that the sarin-filled rockets used in the attacks were fired by the units attached to the 4th Armored Division.
The United States and the EU said that the Syrian regime played a leading role in the actions in Daraa, and announced that it had decided to sanction Maher al-Assad and many Syrian Army commanders.
On January 23, 2019, the UK sanctions list included several senior commanders in the 4th Armored Division and Maher al-Assad linked people.
In Syria, the alliance has carried out attacks against dissidents with the aid of Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militias.
The 4th Armored Division, located in Idlib, violated the boundaries of the tension reduction zone.
In January 2019, the 4th Armored Division clashed with the Tiger Forces and the 5th Armored Division, which was affiliated to the Syrian Army and supported by Russia.
“The 4th Armoured Division of the Syrian Arab Army: History and Capabilities” https://southfront.org/4th-armoured-division-syrian-arab-army-history-capabilities/
By All Means Necessary: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria,” Human Rights Watch, December 2011, p. 83.
Terry Atlas and Sangwon Yoon, “Assad’s Brother Seen Linked to Syria Chemical Attack”, Bloomberg. Access of date: February 3, 2019. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-08-27/assad-s-brother-seen-linked-to-syria-chemical-attack
Gregory Koblentz, “Syria’s Chemical Weapons Kill Chain”, Foreign Policy, access of date February 3, 2019. https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/07/syrias-chemical-weapons-kill-chain-assad-sarin/
“Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle”, BBC, Access of date: February 4, 2018 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/world-middle-east-13216195
“CONSOLIDATED LIST OF FINANCIAL SANCTIONS TARGETS IN THE UK”, January 23, 2019.
Suleiman Al-Khalidi, “Syrian army and allies step up bombing of rebels in Deraa city”, Reuters, access of date: February 4, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-deraa/syrian-army-and-allies-step-up-bombing-of-rebels-in-deraa-city-idUSKBN19305V
“Pro-Iranian and pro-Russian forces clash in Syria”, UAWIRE, access of date: February 4, 2019 https://uawire.org/pro-iranian-and-pro-russian-forces-clash-in-syria