Syrian Camouflage Patterns
Dating to the 1970s is a Syrian copy of the Pakistani arid brushstroke camouflage pattern. Supporting a well-established textile and garment industry for decades, most Syrian uniforms are locally-made, although the originals in this pattern might have been produced from imported fabric.
Having a lengthy association with France, it should be no surprise that Syria has been heavily influenced by French military camouflage, particularly the tenue du leopard or lizard designs. The earliest Syrian made copies seem to retain the russet or orange stripes of the original French designs, although in some cases the stripes are vertically aligned rather than horizontally.
The dapple or spot pattern(s) seen in these photographs can be dated to the early 1970s. Due to the quality of the photographs, it is difficult to discern if these are the same design, or two slightly different patterns. Documentation remains scant, leading us to conclude the use may have been restricted to the Republican Guard or one of the Defense Companies of this period.
Another early pattern derivative of the French lizard is a vertical stripe pattern with dark colors. Sometimes referred to as "green lizard," the design incorporates vertical stripes of brown and dark green on a pale green background. The pattern was reputedly worn by some Syrian Commando and Paratroop units, although it is most commonly associated with units of the PLO. Over the years the pattern earned an association among collectors with a supposed Syrian unit called the "Saika Division;" however, such a Division is undocumented, and in fact the term probably refers to As-Sa'iqa (Al-Sa'iqa), a militant faction of the PLO that was supported by Syria until the early 1990s. This pattern strongly resembles one later adopted by Egypt for certain military police and Presidential Guard units.
The camouflage pattern probably most commonly associated with the Syrian Armed Forces is another lizard variant design having reddish stripes. Introduced in the mid-1970s, the pattern continued to be worn by Syrian, Lebanese and some PLO elements well into the 1990s, although it seems to have fallen into disuse today. Inconsistencies in production standards have led to quite a number of variations being produced, although in most cases the primary difference is a slight variation in the original colors printed, rather than an alteration of the drawings themselves. Both vertical and horizontal orientations have been documented, although the latter seem to be more prevalent. The "red lizard" patterns seem to be primarily associated with airborne and commando units, and not with conventional forces.
Based on similar drawings but with a different colorway is this "purple lizard" design, also used by Syrian forces, as well as PLO elements operating from out of Lebanon.
Beginning in the 1980s, Syrian military forces began deploying with a locally-made copy of the US m1948 ERDL camouflage pattern. There is likely to be some connection to Iraq and/or Jordan, as both countries were using a similar camouflage design at this time. The "Syrian leaf" pattern employs a different color scheme, and, as with most locally-made uniforms, is printed on a heavier weight cotton fabric.
An interesting variation of the above leaf pattern uses a reddish or pink colorway, although is based on the same set of drawings. It appears this pattern was employed primarily by elite Military Police or Security Forces of the Syrian Army.
Using a different set of drawings than the earler "Syrian leaf" pattern, the present day camouflage design is seen here.
Security Forces have appeared in 2012 wearing a woodland variation with a grey/blue colorway, similar to commercial patterns and those adopted by Air Force personnel in some nations.
In recent years, Syrian forces have begun wearing a literal copy of the US-designed m81 woodland design such as the one seen below. The pattern has also seen sporadic use with insurgent forces during the Civil War.
Camouflage Patterns of Unconventional Forces
As with the previous civil war of liberation in Libya (February to October 2011), the numerous factions and sources of military support have made it challenging to track consistent use of camouflage combat uniforms amongst the forces opposing the Syrian government. It has been particularly difficult to determine which camouflage patterns and uniforms have been obtained in quantity (from disparate sources), and which have simply appeared among the combatants singly or in scattered numbers. In addition to standard Syrian Army camouflage uniforms and equipment (which have appeared in abundance), insurgent forces have also made significant use of donated uniforms from supporting nations like Turkey and Jordan. Several types of vertical lizard camouflage have been documented, but in such small numbers it has yet to be determined the sources. The patterns illustrated below have appeared in significant enough numbers to verify their existence in quantity among the liberation movements.
The Free Syria Army (FSA) has received complete camouflage uniforms from Turkey in the same digital pattern worn by the Turkish Army, and also the more recent pattern adopted by the Turkish Air Force.
Copies of the US-designed six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern have appeared in significant numbers among insurgent forces, most likely obtained through sources in Libya or Jordan. It has also been observed among members of the NDF.
Also appearing in significant numbers among both insurgent forces and the NDF have been copies of the tricolor desert pattern, also originally fielded by the USA.
The STK militia have received considerable support from Iran and Hezbollah, including stocks of Iranian camouflage uniforms. The patterns illustrated here seem to be the most commonly encountered among this militia. Apparently some pro-Assad forces (e.g. NDF) have also been known to wear the digital pattern.
Asian-made copies of the USMC MARPAT camouflage design have been documented in use by some insurgents, most notably among members of a militia calling itself the Liwa’a al-Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba. Members of the same militia have also been photographed wearing various Iranian woodland camouflage designs, such as those directly above this entry.
The Liwa'a Zulfigar or Zulfigar Battalion have posted photographs of their militia members wearing two primary camouflage designs, a copy of the British Army desert DPM pattern, and a [digital patterns|pixelated design]] similar to that worn by the UAE (and probably sourced from Libya).
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