Syrian regime appoints Suhail al-Hassan as commander of Special Forces

Suhail al-Hassan, accompanied by members of the Russian special forces on a plane during military training of the regime with Russian forces on parachute landing – March 30, 2022 (Zvezda)

Suhail al-Hassan, accompanied by members of the Russian special forces on a plane during military training of the regime with Russian forces on parachute landing – March 30, 2022 (Zvezda)


Military news accounts reported on Sunday, April 9, that the Syrian regime appointed Major General Suhail al-Hassan as commander of the Special Forces, after he formerly commanded the 25th Division (affiliated with the regime and supported by Russia).

No official announcement has been issued regarding the appointment, while discussions were limited to accounts covering the military operations of the regime’s forces, including “Fighter Waseem Issa,” “SAM Syria,” “War Correspondent Abu Sham,” and “Operations of the Arab Army,” without an exact date or reason for the appointment being specified.

Reports mentioned that the commander of the 25th Division, Major General Suhail al-Hassan, moved from leading the division to leading the Special Forces, with felicitations and congratulations on the new position.

Suhail al-Hassan is considered one of the most prominent Syrian officers close to Russia, and he has a history and a record filled with violations against the Syrian people. He led the training of Tiger Forces in 2015, before the group was renamed to 25th Special Mission Division in August 2019.

Under his command, Tiger Forces participated in several military battles, and he was known for following a “scorched earth” policy. In 2017, he was the only officer present at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Syria, attended by military officials from both Russia and Syria, also attended by the head of the regime, Bashar al-Assad.

The appearance of members of the Russian special forces alongside al-Hassan, especially after the training of Tiger Forces led by al-Hassan, was repeated, and he was honored by the Russian Ministry of Defence with the “Order of Courage” in 2016, attributing it to his fighting against the Islamic State organization in the northern countryside of Hama.

Suhail al-Hassan was born in 1970 and is from the village of Beit Ghana in the Jableh area of Latakia countryside. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1991 and rose through the military ranks until reaching the rank of Brigadier in the Air Force Intelligence Directorate, according to the Pro Justice organization’s website.

As a result of his record of human rights violations, several international entities have imposed sanctions on him, including US, European, and British sanctions.

The 25th Division witnessed another change with the appointment of Major General Saleh Abdullah as commander, after he had headed the security and military committee in Aleppo.

Saleh Abdullah, born in 1967 from Safita in Tartus, is responsible for several massacres in Hama, and he became close to the Russians through joint operations he carried out alongside Suhail al-Hassan, becoming his deputy and operations officer in the Tiger Forces.

In July 2022, the European Union listed Abdullah on its sanctions list due to his military support for Russia in its aggression against Ukraine.

The Special Forces

The Syrian Ministry of Defence defines the Special Force as forces with high combat, mobility, and maneuverability capabilities, and they are capable of executing various missions including:

  • The capture of important areas and lines and naval bases, and sending operational-tactical groups into the enemy’s rear to destroy their groups, missile launch bases, and aircraft.
  • Encircling the enemy and destroying their airborne and naval landings, and covering exposed flanks and gaps.

Before 2011, the Syrian Army consisted of three military corps in the ground forces that included 12 basic military divisions in addition to the Republican Guard, the Special Forces, and the Border Guard, as well as two air divisions, two air defense divisions, and several brigades in the naval forces, along with dozens of military administrations, independent brigades, and others.

Since 2011, and with foreign power interventions in favor of the Syrian regime and direct Russian military involvement even in the structure of the Syrian Army, the Syrian Army is now composed of five military corps in the ground forces that include 17 basic military divisions in addition to the Republican Guard, the Special Forces, and the Border Guard, according to a research paper prepared by the researcher Mohsen Mustafa at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies.

Since the last months of 2023, the regime’s Ministry of Defence has repeatedly issued calls to volunteer in its ranks, offering “attractive” wages not received by personnel in the Syrian military sector, and unusually specifying the duration of military service.

During the current year, Enab Baladi monitored a series of internal decisions and circulars within the military institution, imposing a set of decisions related to the soldiers’ use of the Internet and communication with “allies,” in addition to other instructions aimed at limiting leaks.


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