Archive | June 13th, 2017

The 4th Armoured Division Of The Syrian Arab Army: History And Capabilities


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The 4th Armoured Division was formed in 1984 out of the remnants of the Defense Companies (Saraya Al-Difa’) that had been dismantled after Rifa’at al-Assad’s failed coup attempt against his brother President Hafez al-Assad. Major General Mohammad Ali Dirgham currently leads the 4th Armoured Division while the Syrian President’s brother Maher al-Assad serves as a Brigadier. Some claim that a majority of the orders are given by Maher al-Assad but in reality the 4th Armoured Division is run in accordance with the typical chain of command hierarchy followed by all sectors of the Syrian Arab Army.

The division mainly dependents on volunteers from Homs and the Syrian coast in addition to conscripts spanning all Syrian provinces. Almost all of the 4th Armored Division’s troops are career soldiers in contrast to the conscripts who comprise a majority of other SAA units. Since its inception, the 4th Armoured Division had had superior financial and material support compared to the rest of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) as well as gaining access to some of the most advanced weapons. The division served first and foremost as the government protection force, and was oriented against both internal and external threats.

The 4th Armoured Division consists now of three armored brigades (40th, 41st, 42nd armoured brigades), one mechanized brigade (138th mechanized brigade) and an artillery regiment (154th artillery regiment). The organizational and staff structure of the SAA provides that the tank brigade should have 2,500 men, 105 tanks and 31 infantry fighting vehicles. Mechanized brigade should consist of 3,500 people, 105 infantry fighting vehicles, 31 tanks. Proceeding from the fact that the structure of the SAA is similar to the structure of the USSR Armed Forces, one can assume the following structure of the artillery regiment, armed with self-propelled howitzers 2S1. The battalion of 2S1 howitzers of the Soviet Army of the 1970s-1980s consisted of 228 men and 18 self-propelled guns. Three battalions constitute the regiment. Consequently, the order of the artillery regiment should be about 800 people and 54 SPG. However, one should keep in mind that it is not known how many battalions are armed with SPG, and how many with MLRS. During the conflict, an additional Special Forces regiment (555th Special Forces regiment) was attached to the division, making it larger than conventional armoured divisions. It is, for the most part, based in small groups north and west of Damascus, likely for security reasons. In this system, the regiment of special operations forces should be 1500 people. Thus, the 4th Armored Division must number at least 13,000 men, 350 tanks, 200 infantry fighting vehicles, 54 self-propelled guns, not including air defense units, engineer troops, signal corps units, intelligence and logistics units. This number is more or less constant, given the importance of the tasks assigned to the division in the course of the Syrian armed conflict.

The 4th Armoured Division is mainly armed with T-72AV, T-72M1, and T-55MV battle tanks with reactive armor and the ability to launch guided missiles. The force is also equipped with the T-72 Sniper, an advanced Italian version with the TURMS-T Fire Control System which is considered the most modern in the Syrian land force. The above complexes of weapons and protection make this tank the most advanced in the SAA and allow it to successfully carry out the assigned tasks.

The 4th Armoured Division also has a large variety of artillery systems along with some 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers. Positive qualities of this self-propelled artillery system include high maneuverability and a relatively small mass. In contrast to the self-propelled howitzers of NATO countries, the 2S1 has a direct aiming sight, and the ammunition includes cumulative ammunition to fight with enemy armored vehicles. The shortcomings of this artillery system include weak armor booking, which allows the crew to be protected only from light weapons and shell fragments, as well as separately loaded shells that limit the rate of fire of the gun.

The 4th Armored Division also uses the Soviet UR-77 mine-clearing machine to destroy the terrorist’s positions. The charge of this machine weighing 600-700 kg throws at a range of 250-500 meters. In addition to demining or destroying well-fortified positions, the use of UR-77 produces a strong psychological effect: the roar and flame of rocket engines, the sea of fire, the roar of a powerful explosion does not leave the slightest chance for armed terrorists.

The 42nd Brigade, dubbed “Ghaith Forces” and led by Colonel Ghaith Dalla, is armed with heavy Burkan and Golan 400 multiple launch rocket systems.

The 4th Armoured Division has performed as an indispensable elite unit supporting the Bashar Assad government since the start of the ongoing Syrian crisis. It was the 4th Armoured Division that entered Dara’a in 2011 as well as the towns of Rastan an Talbiseh in Homs to restore order. The main unit that decided the outcome of the situation was the 42nd armoured brigade. 154th artillery regiment and 555th Special Forces regiment took part in the siege of Homs. This siege lasted three years from May 2011 to May 2014, and resulted in an opposition withdrawal from the city. As the events developed and the crisis escalated to all-out warfare, the division began fighting its first battles and suffering its first losses. It was ordered to re-enter Dara’a in the beginning of 2012; however, this time it faced fierce resistance and suffered heavy losses.

Nevertheless, it succeeded in recapturing large parts of Dara’a and its countryside as well as recapturing Hama with the support of other formations of the Syrian Special Forces. In that operation, there were almost no or very low civilian or military losses. A reconciliation treaty was forced onto the city, and all weapons were confiscated.

The next mission was in Idlib where the division (and especially 555th special forces regiment) was able to recapture the city in the span of a week with virtually no civilian or infrastructure damage. However, it failed to restore order to the city’s countryside even when supported by other armored formations. The 4th Armoured Division suffered massive losses as it attempted to recapture Idlib’s eastern countryside. The Battle for Idlib in 2012 was the last major deployment of the 4th Armoured Division outside of Damascus since the militants launched the major assault on the capital in 2012 that was repelled by the Republican Guard.The need for a powerful force in the western fringes of the Syrian capital proved significant. The division began expanding its operations in western Damascus as well as regions north of the capital so as to isolate rebel gatherings and strongholds from each other like what happened in Wadi Barada, Jimraya, al-Tal, and Western Ghouta. Sieges were laid for years to paralyze the jihadist expansion near the capital. One of the 4th Armoured Division’s most significant achievements was its siege of Darayya, a city west of Damascus and south of the Mazzeh Airbase as well as encircling Moadamiyah and separating it from Darayya. Between 2013 and 2014, the battle-hardened division managed to secure the surroundings of Sayedda Zainab Shrine with the support of the the Brigade of Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas south of Damascus advancing onto Babbila and Yalda and forcing them to the reconciliation table. This development allowed the Syrian Armed Forces to strengthen the siege on the remnants of Al-Qaeda and ISIS in the Yarmouk and Tadamon districts. With the beginning of the Russian intervention in 2015, the 4th Armoured Division began the process of emptying the pockets it had successfully isolated since 2012.

Due to the special training and maintenance of the Ghaith Forces, they were able to capture Moadamiyah, Khan Al-Sheh, Wadi Barada, and Darayya.

The jihadist rebels of Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) surrendered Khan Al-Sheih to the Syrian Arab Army after more than four years of battle in this key West Ghouta town near the Syrian capital. With over 3,700 soldiers from the 4th and 7th Armored divisions surrounding Khan Al-Sheih for months, the Syrian Arab Army has received a major boost in terms of manpower to the strategic Golan Heights front in the Al-Quneitra Governorate. Then the 4th Armoured Division’s 42nd Brigade was free to be redeployed. The Golan Heights front became the new battle-zone in southern Syria, as the government aimed to isolate the jihadist rebels near the Israeli border.

The Syrian Arab Army’s 42nd Brigade of the 4th Armoured Division has been redeployed to the Wadi Barada area of rural Damascus after a short stint in the Golan Heights. The 42nd Brigade has been involved in several important battles in the past, including the capture of Yabroud in the Qalamoun Mountains, Darayya, and Khan Al-Sheih. Unlike the other Syrian Arab Army units involved in this offensive at Wadi Barada, the 42nd Brigade was under the direct command of General Maher Al-Assad and his appointed officers. With their impressive track record in battle and technologically advanced weaponry, the 42nd Brigade lead the charge to expel the remaining jihadist rebels from the Wadi Barada area. The Wadi Barada offensive ended January 28, 2017 through a decisive Syrian Army victory.

The 4th Armoured Division and 105th Brigade of the Republican Guard proved too much for rebel forces in Al-Qaboun to handle, forcing them to settle for a truce and swift departure to Idlib province following a nearly three-month long battle.

The followed liberation of Barzeh area was another success that had become possible thanks to the division’s victory in Qaboun.

The Syrian Arab Army’s 42nd Brigade of the 4th Armoured Division was redeploying from the Al-Qaboun District to the Beit Jinn pocket near the Golan Heights border. The 42nd Brigade has begun to transport their soldiers from the Al-Qaboun and Tishreen districts to Beit Jinn. No official date has been set for this Beit Jinn offensive. The capture of Beit Jinn is very important to the Syrian Army’s High Command because it is the last town under the control of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in west Damascus.

Today, the 4th Armoured Division is considered one of the most experienced divisions in urban warfare among its counterpart divisions in the SAA and takes a large share of credit in the improvement of the security status in Damascus and its countryside. It is also one of the few divisions that did not suffer from the large waves of defections that took place in 2011 and 2012.

Syria’s government can have no doubt regarding the professionalism and loyalty of this division. No matter to which part of the front its units are sent, the 4th Armoured Division brilliantly accomplishes their task.

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Is the Nazi regime paying ISIS to attack Iran?

Is the Israeli regime paying ISIS to attack Iran?

Whether the Israeli officials like it or not, they are largely responsible for the attack in Iran. The recent attack also exposes the stupid idea that Iran is sponsoring terrorism throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.

Go to any of the major cities in America and start interviewing people about what they think when they hear the word “war.” They will almost certainly mention things like the Vietnam War, World War I, and World War II. And who were the good guys?

Of course, that would be the United States! Here are subtle questions you should ask: is there such a thing called psychological or covert war? Is it possible that the Israeli regime has been supporting terrorism since 1948 in order to advance their ideological principles?[1] If you move on to ask questions about Osama bin Laden, virtually everyone will say that he was the terrorist who was an accomplice in the 9/11 attack.

But if you ask them about Rabbi and terrorist Meir Kahane,[2] virtually everyone will say that they don’t know a damn thing about him. This is largely because the Zionist media and the Neocons do not want the masses to know the truth about Israel’s terrorist activities.[3]

As former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky would have put it, it is one of the skillful ways the Israeli regime has constantly used to deceive much of the world.[4] The Israeli regime even recruited former Nazis in their covert operation,[5] despite the fact that they have convinced the entire world that Nazis are really bad people.

One ought not to be surprised that Israel is supporting ISIS/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/Daesh in the Middle East. As we have shown in numerous articles, they have admitted exactly that.

The question before us now is this: who is responsible for the recent terrorist attack in Iran? Sure, ISIS took the blame. But who paid the bills? Well, the evidence is not out yet, but there are certain principles we can articulate.

We know for certain that Israel hates Iran and has relentlessly accused them of building nuclear bombs—a categorical lie. We know that Benjamin Netanyahu himself wanted the United States to get into a conflict with Iran. We know that he constantly lies about the country. In fact, lying seems to be his kosher food.

We also know that ISIS has never wanted to get into a conflict with Israel. Even a Zionist outlet like Newsweek has reported that “Fighters loyal to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) have apologized for launching an attack on Israeli forces last year in the disputed Golan Heights region, according to Israel’s former defense minister.”[6]

ISIS, as we all know by now, is fighting Israel’s enemy in Syria. And Israeli officials have responded by giving those terrorist organizations enough support to stay alive in the battleground.

So, whether the Israeli regime likes it or not, they are largely responsible for the attack in Iran. The recent attack also exposes the stupid idea that Iran is sponsoring terrorism throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. Right after Trump made a sort of diabolical pact with the Saudis, he declared:

Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them.

“But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

“It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

“Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime – launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.”

And then this: “Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region.” Well, Donald, do you mean to tell us that you don’t even know that Iran has been fighting ISIS in Syria since the war started? How stupid can we be?

The stupidity gets even worse:

“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

Iran has been reaching out to the West since the beginning of time,[7] and Donald Trump has already been accepted in the Israeli circle by propounding one categorical lie after another about Iran. Right after the attack in Iran, the Trump administration declared: “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”[8]

Complete nonsense. Not a single person in the administration can explain to the world why the United States is sleeping with Saudi Arabia, a state which sponsors terrorism and which is currently wiping out Yemeni men, women and children.

[1] For studies on similar issues, see Ami Pedahzur and Arie PerligerJewish, Terrorism in Israel (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).

[2] For a recent study on Kahane and the radical groups in Israel, see Ami Pedahzur, The Triumph of Israel’s Radical Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012); see also Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000).

[3] See Gordon Thomas, Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995 and 2015); Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars (New York: Levant Books, 2012); Ian Black and Benny Morris, Israel’s Secret Wars: A History of Israel’s Intelligence Services (New York: Grove/Atlantic, 1991).

[4] Victor Ostrovsky, By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990).

[5] See Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal, Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service (New York: HarperCollins, 2012).

[6] “ISIS fighters regret attacking Israel and have ‘apologized,’ former Defense Minister Says,” Newsweek, April 27, 2017; “ISIS once ‘apologized’ to Israel for attacking IDF soldiers – former Defense Minister,” Russia Today, April 25, 2017.

[7] See Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007); A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012); Gareth Porter, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Charlottesville: Just World Books, 2014).

[8] David Burke, “Iran calls Trump’s reaction to deadly ISIS attacks in Tehran ‘repugnant’ after the US president warned the nation is reaping what it sows for ‘sponsoring terrorism,’” Daily Mail, June 8, 2017.

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s “disgusting, desperate attempt to stay in power”

Theresa May and the Ulster terrorists

By Stuart Littlewood

“It was an amazing own goal. We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we shot ourselves in the head.”

That’s how one long-established backbench Conservative MP summed up the unnecessary snap election called by Theresa May which has left the UK almost ungovernable at a key moment in its history.

The Conservatives already had a 17-seat majority in the House of Commons. They were riding high in the opinion polls but May wanted more in order to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations. She needed 326 seats for a majority. Thanks to her cack-handed campaign and a surprise surge in support for her main opponent, Jeremy Corbyn, she won only 318.

Vanity mission

The British people had given Parliament a mandate to leave the European Union and May should have got on with it. Instead she embarked on a distracting vanity mission to needlessly boost her personal authority. At the same time she unleashed the silliest manifesto imaginable, picking a fight with sections of the electorate she could ill afford to alienate. It included a triple assault on the retired and the elderly, a group that religiously turns out to vote. Her half-witted document may well turn out to be her suicide note.

Many of her own MPs are complaining that no-one outside May’s inner circle was allowed to see the manifesto before it was launched. Now she has been handed an ultimatum to sack her two closest advisers, who are seen as having far too much influence and, according to a former aide, creating a “dysfunctional and toxic” atmosphere in the prime minister’s office, Number 10 Downing Street. Otherwise she’ll face a leadership challenge. Latest news is that the problem pair have gone. But what does it say about May’s leadership style and, indeed, the calibre of her cabinet colleagues for putting up with it?

Desperate to stay in post with a minority government, May has turned to the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland), an unsavoury group of Protestant fundamentalist hardliners, to provide a prop. Few would touch them with a bargepole and they will no doubt exact a high price for cooperation.

Her judgement has seldom been good. As Home Secretary she presided over swingeing police cuts, although the terror threat hadn’t receded. The counter-terrorism budget rose but police and politicians warned that other cuts undermined security. And she came nowhere near to achieving immigration targets and let net migration soar out of control.

Before the EU referendum she was a firm “remainer”. Immediately afterwards she changed her spots to become Brexiteer-in-chief, accepting the Conservative Party leadership and making herself comfortable in Number 10. But she never explained where exactly she was taking the country.

Friendless and staring into the abyss

Her very personal, presidential-style general election campaign showed her to be absorbed with boosting her own authority and careless of the interests of her party, her colleagues and even her country. Could she have caught something nasty holding hands with Trump? Her plan backfired spectacularly as Jeremy Corbyn, whose style and message resonate far more strongly with voters young and old, came within touching distance of power. Now, in the cold light of dawn, commentators are saying she is friendless and staring into the abyss.

Desperate to stay in post with a minority government, May has turned to the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland), an unsavoury group of Protestant fundamentalist hardliners, to provide a prop. Few would touch them with a bargepole and they will no doubt exact a high price for cooperation. Furthermore, many Conservatives fear that such a coalition could undermine the Good Friday agreement and undo years of hard work bringing peace to Ireland.

Over half a million people have signed an online petition condemning Theresa May’s plan to govern in coalition with the DUP and calling it “a disgusting, desperate attempt to stay in power”.

Ironically, May had warned a Labour win would mean a “weak and failing Jeremy Corbyn propped up by a coalition of chaos”.

The only place the Conservatives succeeded was in Scotland, where the party is under separate control and led by Ruth Davidson. Here the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) were holding 56 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats, the Conservatives only one. Now the SNP are reduced to 35, the Conservatives taking 13.

Nicola Sturgeon’s tedious obsession with a second independence referendum, coupled with incompetent management of Scotland’s domestic affairs, has cost the SNP over one-third of its seats, including those of its biggest gun, Alex Salmond, and the party’s leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson. It may also be that Scots are waking up to the fact that when Sturgeon talks about independence she actually means selling Scotland back into the EU. She too may have to consider her position.

In the meantime Theresa May might do better asking the Liberal Democrats for support. They are inexplicably pro-EU but now have 12 seats. Their clownish leader, Tim Farron, has ruled out another coalition, but wiser heads in the LibDems should prevail in the public interest and be ready to step in.

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