Assad Disbands Makhlouf Militias, Renames 'Tiger Forces'
Various sources confirmed on Thursday that the latest series of measures taken by head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Assad, against companies owned by his cousin, Rami Makhlouf, in Syria, involved Al-Bustan Association and its linked armed organizations.
This week, reports said that Assad took measures against Makhlouf’s shares in the state-owned Syrian Telecom Company (Syriatel), the country’s biggest mobile phone company. Makhlouf, Assad’s first cousin and the son of Mohammed Makhlouf, is considered a top businessman in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted sources as saying that Assad decided to end and disband the military wing of “Al-Bustan” after Russia gave its orders to limit the expansion of continuous recruitment by the association in return for attractive financial salaries, particularly in the Syrian South.
The Observatory said the association would continue its work in the charitable side, maintaining its cadres and management under the supervision of the Syrian “Presidency” and the Social Affairs Ministry.
In late 2018, the SOHR said it found that Al-Bustan Association worked on recruiting youths and men with attractive financial salaries of up to $350 per month.
Meanwhile, members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party were informed about the lessening of some of their privileges due to Makhlouf’s known support of the SSNP ideology.
Makhlouf founded several companies, including Cham Holding. He was later linked to financing pro-regime forces and their linked militias, mainly through Al-Bustan Association.
Separately, in Damascus the Tiger Forces have been renamed and placed under the command of the army’s central command.
The Tiger Forces have been renamed Division 25 Special Mission Forces and will remain under the command of Major General Suheil Al-Hassan.
The Tiger Forces surfaced in the Syrian war during the Hama, Aleppo and eastern Homs battles.