Assad 'gives amnesty' to military deserters

Assad 'gives amnesty' to military deserters
The Syrian regime has announced an amnesty for those who have fled the Syrian military, breaching service code.
2 min read
18 February, 2016
Up to 100,000 Syrians have avoided compulsory military service in the army [Getty]
President Bashar al-Assad has issued a legislative decree granting a general amnesty for military deserters and those whose "crimes" under the Military Service Law were committed before February 17.

The Syrian president's directive, "does not include fugitives from justice unless they turn themselves in within 30 days for those inside the country and 60 for those outside the country".

However, the decree is unlikely to be taken seriously by deserters.

"Does Assad not want to send us to Tel al-Suwan?" an aremy deserter asked The New Arab. Tel al-Suwan was the site where dozens of regime fighters were killed in East Ghouta as a result of receiving orders to progress into an ambush in an area known to be held by the armed opposition.

"What drives them [soldiers] to join military service in the light of the reality of armed conflict?" the former soldier asked.

Soldiers serving in the Syrian army receive a monthly salary of around $140.

To supplement this income, members of the military reportedly carry out profitable illegal acts and war crimes, including theft and looting, kidnapping and extortion.

The amnesty may also apply to young people who have avoided compulsary military service.

There have been many similar decrees and amnesties issues by the Syrian regime throughout the past year, which opposition military sources say have had little effect.

An estimated 100,000 young Syrians have defaulted on conscription while the current number of soldiers estimated to be serving in the Syrian army is around 75,000.