1st Armoured Division (Syria)
|1st Armoured Division|
Syrian Armed Forces Flag
|Active||1973 - present|
|Size||up to 15,000 soldiers|
|Nickname(s)||"Death Brigade" (76th Brigade)|
Lt. Gen.Ali Aslan|
Col. Tewfik Juhni
Yom Kippur War
During the Syrian Army's assault on the Israeli held Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War, the 1st Division was held in reserve until a breakthrough was made on the front line. On the evening of the first day of battle, the 6th of October, the division was sent forward to follow the success of the 5th Division in the southern part of the line. Dunstan writes that on the evening of October 7, Colonel Tewfiq Juhni, the division commander, established a supply and administrative complex in the Hushniyah area. During the next two days, elements of the division fought along the Syrian salient in the southern Golan, taking part in the battles around Nafach, Hushnia and the area around Al-‘Al. On the 10th of October, the last remnants of the Division alongside other elements of the Syrian Army, finally withdrew after hard fighting against the Israeli defenders.
1982 Lebanon War
At the outbreak of the Lebanon War, the entire division was stationed in the Bekaa Valley. It was composed at the time of the 91st Armoured Brigade, the 76th Armoured Brigade and the 58th Mechanised Brigade, each armored brigade contained about 160 tanks and mechanized brigades consisted of about 40, adding to a division total of some 360 tanks (usually T-62s). In addition to these units, under the command of the division was the 20th Commando Regiment, which was primarily used as the anti-tank and side units also fought division's chemist the 62nd Independent Infantry Brigade. The first meeting between Syrian forces and Israeli army forces occurred near the town of Jezzine, in the southern part of the Rift Valley in Lebanon. To protect the town against the advancing Israeli forces, infantry units and elements of the 76th Armoured Brigade were dispatched. The Battle of Jezzine developed, and the IDF managed to defeat the Syrian forces and occupy the town.
A few days later, the forces of division entered combat with the forces of the IDF who attacked the division where they were on June 11, 1982, in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub. During the battle, the 91st and 76th Brigades were in the line while the 58th remained in reserve, at the same time forces of the 3rd Armoured Division began moving south along the Bekaa Valley to help against the Israeli attack. Finally, after heavy fighting, succeeded Division stave off the Israeli and continued to hold the eastern part of the Beirut - Damascus. Despite the losses the Syrians suffered, this battle is considered a great success because the Israeli effort was curbed against the numerical superiority of the IDF.
The first division is under the command of the second corps, headquartered in Al-Zabadani north-west of Damascus on the border of Lebanon. The corps has responsibility for the entire area north of Damascus to Homs including Lebanon. Corps forces were set up in Lebanon during the Syrian presence there in the years 1976 - 2005. The 1st Division is at the base of Al-Kiswah, south of Damascus.
In 2001, according to Richard Bennett, the division was composed of three brigades, the 44th Armoured, 46th Armoured, and the 42nd Mechanised.
According to Holliday, the division in 2011-12 consisted of the 76th, 91st, and 153rd Armoured Brigades, the 58th Mechanised Brigade, and an artillery regiment. In February–April 2012, the 76th Armored Brigade '..conducted a series of violent clearance operations in rural Idlib Governorate, during which its soldiers committed numerous atrocities across a swath of Syrian villages and left behind graffiti proclaiming the work of the "Death Brigade"'.
The government probably consolidated loyal troops across 1st Division into the 76th Armored Brigade, which it sent north to Idilb via the coastal Latakia road in February 2012. Over the next two months, the 76th Armored conducted a series of violent clearance operations in rural Idlib province, during which its soldiers committed numerous atrocities across a swath of Syrian villages and left behind graffiti proclaiming the work of the “Death Brigade.” The 76th Armored Brigade remained a critical component of the government’s forces remaining in Idlib through 2012. Given the vast disparity in action between this brigade and the three others left in southern Damascus, it seems likely that the 76th Armored is a particularly trusted unit, and that its capability and strength has been bolstered by transferring loyal battalions, companies, or individual soldiers from other brigades in the 1st Division.
- Leith Fadel (22 October 2016). "Syrian Army reinforcements pour into Aleppo ahead of jihadist offensive". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- Dunstan, Simon (2003). The Yom Kippur War 1973: Golan Heights Pt.1. Oxford, United Kingdom: Osprey Publishing Ltd. pp. 17, 18. ISBN 1 84176 220 2.
- Laffin, John (1985). The War of Desperation: Lebanon. Oxford, United Kingdom: Osprey Publishing Ltd. pp. 33–37.
- Richard M. Bennett, The Syrian Military: A Primer, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, August/September 2001.
- Hanna Batatu (1999). Syria's Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton University Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-691-00254-5. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- Simon Dunstan, 'The Yom Kippur War 1973 (1): The Golan Heights,' Osprey, 2003, p.62
- John Laffin The War of Desperation: Lebanon, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1985, pp. 33-37.
- site Lebanon 82.
- Hanna Batatu (1999). Syria's Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton University Press. pp. 220, 228. ISBN 978-0-691-00254-5. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- Holliday 2013, 48.
- Joseph Holliday, 'The Assad Regime: From Counterinsurgency to Civil War, Institute for the Study of War, 2013, citing Human Rights Watch, “They Burned My Heart: War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Plan Negotiations,” May 2012, p. 7.
- Syrian Revolution Coordinator’s Union Facebook Page <facebook.com/monasiqoon>, February 15, 2012, in Holliday 2013 (ibid.).