26-02-2024 09:56 PM Jerusalem Timing

Why Assad “Wasn’t, Won’t be” Defeated? (3/7)

Why Assad “Wasn’t, Won’t be” Defeated? (3/7)

we assign the third part of " Why Assad Wasn’t, Won’t be Defeated?" series to shed light on the Arab Syrian Army, the number of its members, equipments and belief.

Sadeq Khanafer, Hussein Mallah

Syria: AssadBecause the most important fact is that coming from the battlefield, news coming from Syria concerns the public opinion, especially during the escalation of the fights between the army and the armed groups. For this reason, we assign the third part of " Why Assad Wasn't, Won't be Defeated?" series to shed light on the Arab Syrian Army, the number of its members, equipments and belief, in addition to the latest news on the military level, the applied tactics, and the battlefield facts, etc...

Arab Syrian Army

It is the regular official army working with the Syrian Arab Army and Armed Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic. It follows the orders of the Commander-in-chief of the army and the armed groups, who is the President of the republic. In the meantime, he is Lieutenant General Bashar Assad, and his deputy is the Minister of Defense Fahd Jassem Al-Freij.

The Syrian army is considered among the largest armies worldwide on the level of the number of its members. It is also considered among the strongest armies in the Middle East. The number of its members is 320000, its reserve forces 200000 including 42000 officers.

Its Genesis and History

The 1st of August 1946 was the official date of establishing the Arab Syrian Army; it is also the date of the Syrian Government's taking over the armed forces and all their related affairs from the French occupation authorities.
The Syrian army, since its establishment, has engaged in several wars; first of which was the Maysaloun War led by Martyr Youssef Al-Azama against the French invasion to Syria, followed by the Six-Days War, better known as June's Setback, the Black September War in which Syria engaged to defend the Palestinian resistance organizations in Jordan, the 1973 Liberation War, and the 1982 Lebanon War against the Israeli invasion.

The Syrian army also interfered in Lebanon to put an end for the 1976 Civil War that took place within the militias of the Lebanese parties, in addition to the "International Alliance" to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation in 1991.

Sections and Divisions

Administrative Sections:
• Ground Forces
• Air Forces
• Naval Forces
• The Section of Organization
• The Section of Military Intelligence

Organizational Divisions
The Arab Syrian Army is divided into several organizational divisions as follows:
• Ground Forces: Are considered the base of the Syrian army; it is formed of 200,000 fighter, and around 300,000 soldiers
• Air Forces: Include air forces and air defense forces; are considered among the most significant air forces in the Arab world for including around 900 aerial vehicle
• Naval Forces: Their leadership is in Latakia; they function from military ports in Latakia, Al-Mina Al-Bayda, Tartous, and Banias; they comprise around 10,000 fighters operating two submarines, two frigates, two anti-submarines boat, four naval mine planters, three amphibious boats, and other 25 naval military ships of different sizes.

National Defense Army

The Syrian authorities also established the National Defense Army in parallel with the regular forces that are busy with the combat missions. It was composed of males and females volunteers, from different ages, along with members of the popular committees that were consequently composed due to the ongoing conflict in Syria. Its missions are limited with protecting the neighborhoods from the attacks of the armed opposition members. They receive monthly salaries, wear uniform, and estimated by tens of thousands from several governorates.

The Adopted Ranks

The Arab Syrian Army comprises several ranks divided into sections and adopt the pyramid organizations of the military institution. The lowest rank receives orders from the highest, and the higher rank orders the lower. Ranks are divided into three types: individuals, raw officers, and officers, in which military ranks reach General Lieutenant.

The military ranks of the Arab Syrian Army from the lowest to the highest, click here.

Military Service

The obligatory military service in Syria is a must on every non-single male (who has brothers from both parents), and who is over 18 years of age. Its duration is 18 months starting from the day of engaging with the recruiting areas to the army’s camps, and ends on the first day of the month that follows the overall duration. As for the assignees who didn’t succeed in the fifth grade of the basic education or less, their obligatory military service is 21 months. This is after the recent amendments in the Syrian laws of the military service in 2007.

The army in Syria follows a group of institutions that have activities in construction, paving ways, constructing bridges, as well as industry, medicine, and scientific researches. The Syrian military institution’s laws require that its employees don’t interfere in the civil affairs, don’t stand for the parliamentary elections, and cannot work in other jobs. Its members also aren’t allowed to show military getups outside the working place and time, to show individual arms and others unless in wars or confrontations.

Arms and Ordnance

There is no accurate information about the Syrian army’s weapons due to the secrecy around this issue. But what is sure is that the Syrian army owns one of the strongest missile arsenals in the region and the world, considered the fifth power in the world. It is able to reach any area in the Zionist entity and hit the targets accurately, according to multinational experts. The most well known are the “Scud” missiles.

The Syrian army also has numerous and various armadillos with advanced features, which, along with the missile arsenals, forms a deterring power and achieves the balance of terror.

The Beginning of the Crisis

The older than two-year crisis in Syria has settled in the country killing thousands of Syrians and causing massive destruction, not to mention millions of refugees. But the most important target in this bloody conflict is the Syrian army that found itself obliged to engage in a battle of confrontation to this enterprise to topple Syria by the armed groups.

In this context, Strategic and Military Expert Salim Harba says to Al-Manar Website that “the Arab Syrian Army since the beginning of the crisis was the first target. It faced compound aggression especially on the media level that targeted it day and night throughout false news, dishonesty, defamation, devilry, as well as attempts to partition its members, belittle its beliefs, and fund and abet many ill minded former army members. It was an attempt to exaggerate, yet it was limited with some individual cases and didn’t affect the Syrian army’s unity, coherence, power, and beliefs.”

In his turn, Former Director of the Directorate of Orientation in the Lebanese Army, retired Brigadier-General Elias Farhat stresses to Al-Manar Website that “the Syrian army tried to embody the crisis since its beginning; it was forbidden to carry weapons and fire until many members were injured and after the Jisr Al-Shgour massacre, whereby 200 security members were killed, the army was allowed to use weapons and defend itself…”

New Tactics

Because the ongoing confrontation on the Syrian lands doesn’t apply any of the clear military rules, and mostly described as guerilla warfare, it was a must on the Syrian forces to adapt with the new reality and invent new fighting techniques that suit the circumstances on the ground.

Salim Harba says that “the Syrian army is qualified to confront a foreign aggression from the Israeli side because it is a source of threat. 80% of its armament abilities are set to confront such aggression. As for nowadays, the army could quickly adapt with fighting in the populated cities and hinder any terrorist military aggression enterprise inside Syria.” He also noted that this was the first mission and was successfully accomplished.

A Syrian army colonel of the field leaders in Baba Amro battle, who asked not mentioning his name, said to Al-Manar Website that “special groups are preset to guerilla warfare before the events. And after two years of fighting, all the groups among the army acquired a significant experience due to the thousands of battles in which it had engaged. When we say that the Syrian army doesn’t feel tired and could check a region without sacrificing any losses, this didn’t happen by coincidence; however it developed several concepts according to us.”

“For example, we supply the soldiers with double equipments to be able to resist when besieged until we can support them. Soldiers are now aware of the alleys, streets and buildings, especially in the random regions. They well know how to move and save their lives; they are also more stable and don’t fear expiatory groups after well knowing them,” added the colonel.

Open Borders

The Syrian leadership’s information indicates that Turkey played the most important role in arming and training the fighting groups through sheltering them on its lands, opening its borders to the militants to sneak into its land, and money and ordnance smuggling to Syria.

Brigadier-General Elias Farhat explains that “Syrian-Turkish borders, along 800 kilometers, were a main pathway for the passage of the armed groups. Some Arab countries funded militants’ recruitment and transporting them to Turkey where they were organized in fighting groups and send them to an assigned leadership in Syria to perform terrorist operations.”

Weapons Overflow

Farhat asserts that “arming militants started on the first day, unlike what is rumored, and the opposition had rocket launchers and various kinds of bombs, that they need instead of warplanes.” Farhat reminds us with the Russian Army’s Chief of Staff saying that the Syrian opposition received 40 Stinger missiles, while the American Minister of Defense said that it wasn’t Washington that supplied the opposition with the missiles. “It was the Arab countries that supplied the opposition with those missiles,” he added. “The militants use the tunnels built by the government for sewerage to improve the social and service circumstances for the citizens,” Farhat said.

Leadership and Control

“The system of leadership and control in the Syrian army is coherent, and the ranks of military leadership and priority of groups are still the same,” Farhat asserted. “Secede took place, and the dissenters have no will to fight. The rest are the majority and the dissenters aren’t but 15 or 10% of the total. None of the leaders did secede, but those who did are second-line officers,” he noted. Farhat Added that the army is pretty aware of its country’s interest, it is trained and well-equipped professionally to defend its nation and people. “The majority of the Syrians have Arab national beliefs anti-Zionism,” Farhat said.

The Syrian army colonel of the field leaders in Baba Amro battle, in his turn, said that “two years after this war, it became clear to every military expert that those resisting and fighting on tens of fronts, and in several geographic locations, moving forward to protect their country from being defeated, proved to be among the strongest armies in the world.” “The Syrian army, despite all aggressive campaigns and assassinating its leaders, is still believing and frightens all enemies, first of which is Israel,” the colonel added.

Resistance and Progress

To reveal the battlefield truth, the Strategic and Military Expert Salim Harba asserts to Al-Manar Website that “after two years, the reality is very comfortable because the military terrorism enterprise failed and the terrorists and their leaders and supporters inside Syria don’t have enough factors to change the balance of powers in the field, nor to surprise or take the initiative from the army, especially that the achievements are clearly witnessed by everybody in Rif Dimashq from Darayya toward the eastern Ghouta where the army is executing one of kind promising operations and inventing tactics from which it could adapt itself with the guerilla warfare.”

Brigadier-General Elias Farhat noted that “the Syrian army could hold on the main turning points of the country as well as the foreign passageways, borders, and main airports such as the Damascus, Aleppo, and Latakia international airports, in addition to main air bases. Only small airports and landing areas remained. They are 31, not to mention that the militants spread control over some of them while the Syrian army didn’t go deep into the rural areas.”

The Battlefield

According to observers and experts to our website, the battlefield data are classified as follows:
Aleppo: The army could clean more than half of the city, in addition to the Hama-Aleppo highway, in which the Aleppo International Airport and its path became safe from far areas.
Battles today are intensified in a part of Aleppo where the Al-Nusra Front spreads control over a specific sector, the Al-Tawhid Brigade of the Muslim Brotherhood cpntrols another sector, as well as FSA groups in the rural areas with no unified organization.
Idlib: The city center is contrloed by the Syrian army in addition to some rural areas. However, armed groups are found in wide rural areas and some cities like Ma’arat An-Numan.
Ar-Raqqah: A remote city where no significant events took place. Refugees went to this city, estimated by 100 thousand. Syrian opposition and the “Al-Nusra Front” could penetrate into the refugees where they occupied the center of the governorate and other administrative centers.
Al-Hasakah: The Center of the Governorate is the Al-Qameshly City; it is under the control of the Syrian army. Militants are found in the rural areas and on the border passageways with Turkey.
Deir Az-Zour: The center of the city is under the army’s control. Militants are in some rural areas.
Hama: The city and most rural areas are under the government’s control while some militants are in the rural areas.
Homs: 75% of the city was cleaned by the army; some areas are still occupied in Al-Khalediya.
Daraa: The city center and a big part of the governorate are under the army’s control.
Suwaidaa: Under the Syrian army’s control.
Latakia and Tartus: Major areas are controlled by the Syrian army except nearby areas between Latakia and Aleppo.
Damascus and Rif Dimashq: The major battle is in Rif Dimashq, total area 20,000 square kilometers. The operation zone’s total area is 6000 square kilometers, and the army is going forward.

To highlight more on the battle of Rif Dimashq, a colonel in the Syrian army noted to Al-Manar website that “in Rif Dimashq solely there is information about killing more than 10,000 militants, most of which were killed recently. In Aleppo also the numbers are big. For this reason, they target civilians in some Damascene regions with mortar bombs and suicide attacks.”

The Horizon of the Battle

According to Mr. Farhat, “the battle seems to be longlasting because Turkey is still on the main platform of receiving and training the militants. Activities are still serious to send fighters to Syria.” He also added that “in case the political agreement was true, and American-Russian-European settlement took place, battles might recede.” “Till the moment, the Turkish side is still on the forefront battle against Syria. Few members are in Lebanon and Iraq, but the Syrian army is dealing with them,” he added.

Farhat concluded that “the army is capable of resisting, but settlement is very hard in the presence of 800 square kilometers open to the Turkish borders, as well as massive support and armament from all sides, even Israel, to the Syrian opposition. If Ankara continued adopting the same policy, then the battle will last long.”

There is doubt that the battle reached the climax and over passed all redlines; but the Syrian army still holds the initiative and spreads control despite everything. Being defeated here or there doesn’t mean being defeated in the war. There are some priorities in the military work. Supply and main cities are the main priority. Other geographic areas have their own measures. The coming days will prove that the army’s choices were just…

To read the Arabic version of this article click here

Why Assad Wasn't, Won't be Defeated? (1/7)
Why Assad Wasn't, Won't be Defeated? (2/7)

Expect soon
Part 4: Policy and Diplomacy… Sticking to the Principles
Part 5: The Inside and Outside Opposition
Part 6: Syria… the World Became Two Poles
Part 7: Solution in Syria?

Translated by Zeinab Abdallah