Ali Habib Mahmud

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Ali Habib Mahmud
علي حبيب محمود
10th Minister of Defense
In office
3 June 2009 – 8 August 2011
PresidentBashar al-Assad
Prime MinisterMohammad Najji Outri
Adel Safar
Preceded byHasan Turkmani
Succeeded byDawoud Rajiha
19th Chief of Staff of the Syrian Army
In office
3 June 2004 – 3 June 2009
PresidentBashar al-Assad
Preceded byHasan Turkmani
Succeeded byDawoud Rajiha
Personal details
Born(1939-01-01)1 January 1939
Tartus, Syria
Died20 March 2020(2020-03-20) (aged 81)
Damascus, Syria
Political partySyrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Military service
AllegianceArmy of Syria
Years of service1959–2011
RankSyria-Feriq Awal.jpg Colonel General
Commands7th Mechanized Division
Battles/warsYom Kippur War
Lebanese Civil War
Gulf War

Ali Habib Mahmud (Arabic: علي حبيب محمود‎; 1 January 1939 – 20 March 2020) was a Syrian military officer who served as Syria's minister of defense from June 2009 to August 2011. As one of Syria's most celebrated generals,[1] he was part of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Mahmud was born into an Alawite family on 1 January 1939 in Tartus[3][4] and joined the army in 1959.[5] In 1962, he graduated from the military academy.[3]


Mahmud fought in the 1973 October War against Israel. He also led forces against Israeli troops invading Lebanon in 1982, including the Battle of Sultan Yacoub.[6] He commanded 7th mechanized infantry in 1985.[4] In 1986, Mahmud became a general.[7] He also participated in the Gulf War as part of the international coalition to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 1990.[2] In 1994, he was appointed commander of the special forces.[5] In 1998, he was promoted to the rank of major general.[7] He was appointed deputy chief of staff in 2002. On 12 May 2004, he was appointed chief of general staff of the Syrian army and the armed forces.[3][8] He replaced Hasan Turkmani, who was appointed defense minister.[8] In addition, Mahmud was a member of the Baath Party.[7]

On 3 June 2009, President Bashar Assad appointed Mahmud as defense minister, replacing again Hasan Turkmani.[3][9] Mahmud's term ended on 8 August 2011, and he was replaced by Dawoud Rajha in the post.[5]

On 4 September 2013, the opposition wrongly claimed that Mahmud had defected and escaped to Turkey.[10] In fact, he remained in Syria.[1]


In May 2011, the United States accused Habib of human rights abuses, and announced a travel ban and asset freeze.[2]


On 20 March 2020, Mahmud died in Al Assad University Hospital, Damascus.[11]


  1. ^ a b Kamal Alam (23 January 2019). "Kissinger's Prophecy Fulfilled in Syria". War on the Rocks. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Bashar al-Assad's inner circle". BBC News. 18 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d وزير جديد للدفاع في سورية (in Arabic). BBC Arabic. 3 June 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ a b c "Ex-Syrian DefMin Opposition to Hama crackdown led to firing – Sources". Asharq Alawsat. Damascus, London. 9 August 2011. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  6. ^ سوريا تنعى وزير الدفاع الأسبق علي حبيب.. قائد معركة "السلطان يعقوب". (in Arabic). 20 March 2020.
  7. ^ a b c "Who is Defence Minister Ali Habib Mahmoud?". Gulf News. 17 June 2011. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  8. ^ a b Flynt Lawrence Leverett (1 January 2005). Inheriting Syria: Bashar's Trial by Fire. Brookings Institution Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-8157-5206-6. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Syria names former army chief new defence minister". Syria Today. July 2009. Archived from the original on 30 November 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  10. ^ Exclusive: Former Syria defense minister defects in break with Assad. Reuters. Retrieved on 2013-09-06.
  11. ^ "Former Syrian army chief Ali Habib dies aged 81". 20 March 2020.
Military offices
Preceded by Deputy Chief of Staff of Army
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief of Staff of Army
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Defense
Succeeded by