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Syrian soldiers desperate for demobilization after retention in regime’s armed forces

Syrian regime's forces in western rural Aleppo - 11 February 2020 (RIA Novosti)

Syrian regime's forces in western rural Aleppo - 11 February 2020 (RIA Novosti)

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Homs – Orwah al-Mundhir

The General Command of the Syrian regime armed forces, officially known as “the Syrian Arab Army and Armed Forces” has issued separate administrative orders of ending the retention and summons of reserve officers, retained officers, and military personnel who have completed the actual reserve service of seven years or more.

Meanwhile, no decisions have been issued to specify the period of retention or reserve so far, leaving soldiers uncertain about when their military service will end.

The latest of these decisions were implemented on 7 April, in which the General Command ended the retention and summons of reserve officers, retained officers, and those enrolled in the civil reserve service, according to conditions related to the period of service.

The decision came as an implementation of two administrative orders, issued on 29 March, that ended the retention and recall of reserve officers who have completed three years or more of actual backup service until the date of 1 April 2020. 

The decision also included the non-commissioned officers (NCO), the reserve individuals in retention, and those enrolled in the backup service before 1 January 2013, who have had actual reserve service of seven years or more until 1 April, bringing the total service to at least eight and a half years.

It is worth mentioning that all military discharging orders are valid at their issuing date and do not include those who meet the discharging conditions after the expiration date of the circulation, even if there is a slight difference between the decision’s implementation date and the completion date of service for some enlisted soldiers.

Khaled is a conscript sergeant from Homs province, was affected by the decision. He told  Enab Baladi that “at the time of releasing the latest discharging order, I did not meet the conditions, I only have 36 days to be released from the army. Therefore, when I do finish my service, they will not discharge me, and I will be forced to wait for a new decision that will hopefully include me.”

He added in a grieving tone, “no one cares about us, they don’t care whether we are included in the decision or not, and our fault is that we have stayed in the military service. My conditions prevented me from escaping military service.”

Limited numbers

The decision to end retention came after more than a year of the last demobilization orders. It coincided this year with Turkey’s Operation “Spring Shield” carried out by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) in northern Syria, as well as to the battles that took place along the Damascus-Aleppo (M5) international highway.

Besides, the decisions to end retention service are carefully planned regarding the exact numbers of those included in the demobilization, in order not to affect the capabilities of the Syrian regime army.

Muhannad, a warrant officer voluntarily serving in the Syrian regime forces’ Central Command in Homs province, told Enab Baladi, “the intelligence service directed an order for all military units to count all those who could be laid off, mainly the conscripts assigned on the fighting fronts in rural Idlib and Aleppo.”

He added that “the circulation order is the first of its kind, for army discharge decisions, are the responsibility of departments of human resources management and military administrative records. Nevertheless, nowadays, the intelligence service issues all resolutions in the army of the Syrian regime without exceptions and gives instructions to department managers, corps, and divisions’ leaders.”

This is in line with what the Information Unit manager and military expert at Omran Center, Nawar Shaban, said to Enab Baladi, as he explained that the latter decision would not affect the defensive or offensive plan of the Syrian regime forces. 

He added the forces brought by the Syrian regime had no fighting experience; they were a mere numerical increase to fill in the gap in certain fronts or to force these forces to be the spearhead and initiate the attack. Therefore, the death toll of the Syrian regime forces rose in the latest battles.

In an interview with Enab Baladi, sergeant Abdul Fattah Abdul Razzaq, a leader in the opposition factions, confirmed that the steps taken by the regime concerning the last enlistment decisions are not significantly affecting its military capabilities.

The decision included the demobilization of members of old cycles that were exhausted during the war years, most of them discharged from administrative positions, and not from the battlefields, for they had war-related injuries.

Missed military service

After the Russian intervention in Syria, which began in September 2015, the regime forces made advancements and re-took control over additional areas that were held by the opposition factions.

Later the regime reached reconciliation and settlement agreements in these areas. As a result, some defected soldiers from al-Assad’s regime found no other option but to return to the army of the Syrian government to settle their situation.

Omar, a defected soldier from the al-Rastan city in Homs province, is one of those who deserted the army of the Syrian regime in 2013 after the regime lost control over his home town.

Nonetheless, Omar had to return after the reconciliation agreement in May 2018. He said that he settled his defection situation after an amnesty decree was issued; thereby, Omar was reenlisted in the military service, according to what he said to Enab Baladi.

The army’s dissertation period is not included in the actual duration of military service, as Omar clarifies, “I am still serving even after my discharge decision, and I was not released because the regime considered the period I was outside the army as a missed military service.”

He added “the regime is mocking us, and we can do nothing about it because the situation is out of our control; nevertheless, we will not forgive who forced us to return to the army after tricking us with amnesty,” in reference to the guarantees that young men in his area received upon the reconciliation agreement under Russian auspices.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Defense Ministry does not disclose the number of the conscripts in the army or any details about the retained officers and individuals and reserve ones; however, some global websites including “Global fire Power,” a website that provides an analytical display of data about world military power, estimated the numbers at 142,000.

 

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