Republican Guard (Syria)
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|Syrian Republican Guard Forces|
Republican Guard shoulder sleeve insignia
|Active||1968 – present|
|Allegiance||President of Syria|
|Branch||Syrian Arab Army|
|Garrison/HQ||Mount Qasioun, Damascus|
|Maj. Gen. Shoaeb Suleiman|
|Deputy Commander||Brig. Gen. Mohamed Qasem|
|Brigade Commanders||Brig. Gen. Issam Zahreddine (104th Brigade)
Brig. Gen. Talal Makhlouf (105th Brigade)
Brig. Gen. Rukin Mohamed Khaddor (106th Brigade)
Manaf Tlass (formerly) (105th Brigade)
The Syrian Republican Guard (Arabic: الحرس الجمهوري al-Haras al-Jamhūriyy as-Sūrī), also known as the Presidential Guard, is a 25,000 man armoured Division composed of 2 Security Regiments, 1 Mechanized Brigade, 1 Artillery Brigade and 2 Armoured Brigades of the Syrian Army. They are a single armored division used to protect the capital, Damascus, from any domestic threats. The Guard is the only Syrian military unit allowed within the capital city centre.4
The Guard was formed in 1968 when anti-Syrian Palestinian groups launched attacks on Syrian officials. Major-General Adnan Makhlouf commanded the Guard from 1976 till 1997. The Republican Guard is used mostly to protect top Syrian government officials from any external threats and to serve as a counter-weight to the other powerful military formations near the Capital, the 4th Mechanized Division, the 3rd Armoured Division, and the 14th Special Forces (Airborne) Division.5 It is reportedby whom? that in order to maintain loyalty to the Syrian government, officers of the Republican Guard receive a significant share of the revenue from the Syrian oil fields in the Deir ez-Zor region, which in large part is not recorded in the country's budget.6 Many members of the Assad family have served in the Republican Guard. Bashar al-Assad was a Colonel, and was given control of a brigade. His younger brother Maher was also a Colonel in the Republican Guard.7
The division is composed of the 101st and 102nd Security Regiments, tasked with providing security to the President, Cabinet Ministers, other senior officials, the Army HQ and other Government institutions ; and the 103rd,2 104th, 105th and 106th Brigades.8 The main units are garrisoned on Mount Qasioun overlooking Damascus. From the mountain, the Guard commands a strategic panoramic view of the city and its suburbs. The Artillery Brigade, equipped with D-30 howitzers and BM-21 Grad rockets, is thus able to shell virtually any part of the city and suburbs occupied by internal armed enemy forces.
At the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the Republican Guard kept out of the conflict, with only the regular Syrian Armed Forces fighting. In June 2012, the Republican Guard clashed with rebels near its housing compounds and bases in the suburbs of Qudsaya and al-Hamah, about 8 kilometers from central Damascus.9 The unit has been accused by Human Rights Watch of engaging in human rights abuses during the conflict.8 Later on, Republican Guard units were deployed to regime bases in the North and East of the country, in order to bolster and stiffen the resistance against rebel advances.citation needed
The Republican Guard uniform is distinct from the regular Army uniform. Service dress is composed of red berets rather than the standard black or green, red epaulettes, red lanyards, and brown leather belts with brown shoes. On ceremonial occasions, officers wear red peaked caps instead of a beret.citation needed
- "Syrian rebel leader to Haaretz: Assad's opposition will secure chemical weapons". Haaretz. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "Consolidated List Of Financial Sanctions Targets In The Uk". Hm-treasury.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Interactive: Tracking Syria's defections". Al Jazeera. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- MEIB (August 2000). "Syria's Praetorian Guards: A Primer". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin 2 (7). Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- Paul, James (1990). Human rights in Syria. Human Rights Watch. p. 50.
- Batatu, Hanna (1999). Syria's peasantry, the descendants of its lesser rural notables, and their politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-691-00254-1.
- Bar, Shmuel (2006). Bashar’s Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview. pp. 379, 384. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- "Appendix 1: Structure and Command of Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies". Human Rights Watch.
- "Activists: Syrian rebels clash with elite troops". USA Today. Associated Press. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- Kenneth M. Pollack, Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness 1948-91, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2002, and Pollack's book reviewed in International Security, Vol. 28, No.2.
- Richard Bennett, The Syrian Military: A Primer MEIB Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 8, August/September 2001