Syrian opposition ATGM arsenal includes different types, Soviet/Russian made like 9M14 “Malyutka”, 9K111 “Fagot”, 9M113 “Konkurs”, 9K115-2 “Metis-M”, 9M133 “Kornet”, Chinese made HJ-8, France/Germany made “MILAN”, but the most prominent is the United-States made BGM-71 “TOW”.
I want to focus on the last one; BGM-71 “TOW” (Tube, Optically, Wire) missiles are guided missiles that could thoroughly damage tanks, armored carriers, and other vehicles and can be used from a considerable distance. The “TOW” was spotted as early as April 2014 during the Syrian Civil War.
The delivery of the “TOW” missiles to Syria, Saudi official confirmed delivery of 500 “TOW” antitank missiles to the “Free Syrian Army” and have also been provided by the CIA under a program of military support for “vetted” Syrian groups that has in some cases included military training by the U.S.A Central Intelligence Agency. Therefore it is not surprising to see “TOW” ATGM with many different FSA units, Hazzm Movement, Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Brigades, the 13th Division, 1st Coastal Division, Syria Revolutionaries Front, Yarmouk Army, Knights of Justice Brigade, and the 101st Division.
During April South Aleppo offensive Syrian Arab Army carries notable losses in armor; militants are fiercely resisting and actively using “TOW” ATGM, Which reminds the “Tank massacre” carried out by “FSA” on October 2015 as a response to Syrian Arab Army large offensive backed by Russian air-force to retake northern portions of Hama province. Then Syrian army lost over 15 armored cars, vehicles, and tanks. Wide loss in armor forced Syrian army to change the nature of their offense.
In February 2016, a video appeared of FSA using a “TOW” ATGM to hit a Russian T-90, despite the tank being equipped with the “Shtora”-(Curtain in Russian) soft-kill active protection system which is supposed locate the electro-optical disruptor and activate smoke screens to disrupt missile tracking, but that didn’t happened. The tank crew survived the successfully hit thanks to “Kontakt-5” explosive reactive armor.
In October 2015 to overcome the losses in armor Syrian army aided by heavy bombardment of the Russian Air Force with partial Russian withdrawal from Syria now it becomes harder to overcome.
Also the Iranian find it effective their “Toophan” ATGM is a reverse-engineered copy of the USA military BGM-71 “TOW” missile. Despite his age BGM-71 “TOW” still an effective weapon on the battlefield in the Middle East and can affects the work of the armored divisions.