The Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) has been an independent service in the Syrian armed forces since its formation in 1948 but is distinct from the Air Defence Force, which controls Syria’s network of air defence radars and surface‐to‐air missile batteries.
It has a long tradition of political involvement in the government of Syria, supporting the nationalist and secular Syrian Ba’ath Party. President Bashar al Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, was a former commander of the SyAAF in the 1960s and 1970s.
The SyAAF’s Intelligence Directorate is one of Syria’s most powerful security agencies. It played a major role in crushing the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the 1980s and in 2011 was in forefront of attempts to put down the “Arab Spring” uprising.