Regime 'forcing prisoners' to fight IS in eastern Syria

Regime 'forcing prisoners' to fight IS in eastern Syria
The Syrian regime is taking young men from their homes and prisons and are using them as human shields in the war against IS in Deir az-Zour, monitors say.
2 min read
25 September, 2016
Regime forces in the Deir Ezzor region have been dwindling since the coalition airstrike [Getty]
Regime forces have sent 500 men to Deir az-Zour to fight the Islamic State group - some by force - following a coalition air strike which killed around in excess of 90 Syrian fighters.

According to Omar Abu Layla, manager of Deir Ezzor 24, an observatory group with sources in the area, the soldiers include Hizballah fighters and young men who were taken from their homes.

"Assad forces have been arresting young men in Deir az-Zour and across Syria, and taking them to the front to fight," Abu Layla said.

"After the coalition bombing at the airport last week, [Asssad is] replacing all of the fighters with young men that have been in prison across Syria.

According to Abu Layla, there has been no water supply in some parts of Deir az-Zour for six days now, as the regime has not sent any water trucks to replenish water stations.

"Assad is saying that he can't help people there because the IS fighters are holding the city by siege, but it is just not true," he said.

"Assad can and must provide diesel for the water trucks to help the people there - some residents haven't received any water for days."

A spokesperson for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights agreed with Abu Layla's report, saying that the Syrian regime are arresting young men every day.

"We don't know exactly how many men are being sent to the front, but they're being sent to replenish the men who died at Deir az-Zour airport last week."

A US-led coalition airstrike struck the eastern Syrian city's airport on 17 September, killing hundreds of regime soldiers.

It was the first time that the coalition had struck Syrian forces in the five-year conflict, and the US and other coalition forces said the attack was a mistake.