Syrian regime haunts draft evaders in Aleppo 

Destruction caused by Syrian regime airstrikes in eastern Aleppo, before it entirely controlled the area – 19 April 2021 (Saber al-Halabi/Enab Baladi)

Destruction caused by Syrian regime airstrikes in eastern Aleppo, before it entirely controlled the area – 19 April 2021 (Saber al-Halabi/Enab Baladi)

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The Military Police and Military Security Service are operating patrols across the city after Aleppo’s draft centers ordered mandatory military evaders to join the army following Eid al-Adha holidays.

Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Aleppo monitored patrols of the Military Police, Military Security Service, and Secret Police in and around the city. Patrol officers are checking the identity documents of male citizens in search of potential draft evaders.

A Military Police officer in Aleppo told Enab Baladi that evaders had time up to 24 July to join the ranks of regime forces. “However, a large segment of recruits abstained from joining military divisions for various reasons, notably fearing they will be deployed to active fronts. There are also meager salaries paid to recruits. Such salaries amount to 38,000 Syrian Pounds (SYP=11 USD).”

Withholding his name for security reasons, a member of the Military Security Service told Enab Baladi that the drive dedicated to haunting draft evaders is seeking to capture over 14,000 potential recruits in Aleppo province.

He added that those ordered to join the army and who have not yet shown up at their assigned draft centers will be subjected to punitive measures; they will have to serve longer than standard military service terms. Recruits are liable to imprisonment should they be captured or surrender themselves after 24 July.

He added that some of these young men might be sentenced to two years in prison if they refuse to perform mandatory military service.

Security haunt

A source from the Aleppo Military Security Service told Enab Baladi that the province will soon witness a large-scale security drive in search of draft evaders.

The source added that the regime’s draft centers in Aleppo and its countryside have put in place strict measures against draft evasion and abstention.

A staffer from the draft center in Mount Simeon (Hanano Barracks) told Enab Baladi that the measures include “a fine between 43,000 and 187,000 SYP, in addition to time in prison.”

Over the past few days, security services tightened security measures in Aleppo city to press potential recruits into joining military divisions and remind them of the time limits on enlistment days. The drive is launched amidst a whirl of rumors that the regime intends to demobilize a batch of on-duty mandatory and reserve military service recruits over the two upcoming months.

Last February, local media outlets circulated a video of Brigadier-General Elias al-Bitar, head of the Exemption and Reserve branch, threatening that authorities will confiscate the properties of draft evaders older than 42, knowing that enlistment in the army starts at 18.

Brigadier-General al-Bitar said, in the video published by the Ministry of Information, that 42-year-old draft evaders will not be exempted from mandatory service unless they paid the exemption fee in cash. Those who do not pay will be penalized by the executive seizure of their assets, or those of their relatives.

Pertaining to the above-42 evaders, the Syrian Tax Collection Law stipulates confiscation of “due” debts for the benefit of State treasury, as well as the seizure and immediate sell of properties or the registration of these properties in the name of the State when unsold.

The law added that State can sell properties registered in their name only three years after the seizure.

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