April 6 (Reuters) - Here are details of Syria's armed forces which experts say are dominated by senior Alawite officers, ensuring loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad.
Assad deployed the army in the main port city of Latakia last month and around the southern city of Deraa, where protests broke out nearly three weeks ago inspired by Arab uprisings elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.
Syria's armed forces total 295,000 active personnel, backed by heavy artillery, tanks, warplanes and a small navy. There are also 314,000 reservists. In a move to curb dissent last month, Assad shortened military conscription to 18 months from 21.
* GROUND FORCES:
Numbers: 220,000 including conscripts. Assad's brother Maher controls the Presidential Guard, the Republican Guard, and the Fourth Armoured Division which together with Syria's secret police form the heart of the country's security forces.
4,950 main battle tanks, 590 reconnaissance vehicles, up to 2,450 armoured infantry fighting vehicles, 1,500 armoured personnel carriers, 3,440 artillery pieces, up to 500 mortars and at least 4,100 surface-to-air missiles.
* PARAMILITARY FORCES:
Numbers: 108,000. Made up of 8,000 Interior Ministry gendarmerie and 100,000 Workers Militia or People's Army (Baath Party).
Numbers: 5,000 Bases located at Lakatia, Tartus and Minet el-Baida
* AIR FORCE:
Numbers: 100,000, including 30,000 reserves.
Combat capable aircraft: 555 Mig planes, including more than 150 fighters, more than 300 fighter-ground attack planes, 48 intelligence/surveillance planes, and 22 heavy transport planes.
Helicopters: 36 attack helicopters, 100 reconnaissance/transport helicopters, 20 transport helicopters.
Sources: Reuters/IISS Military Balance 2011