Daraa youth refuse to join compulsory 'murderous' Syrian regime military service, fear for uncertain future
Young men refusing to enrol in compulsory military service with the Syrian regime feel under threat of arrest as the deadline for the postponement of their conscription expires, The New Arab's Arabic language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
The regime in April 2021 granted men aged between 18 and 36, who are wanted for military service in the southern Daraa province, a period of one year in which they were free to travel before enrolling in the army.
During this period, thousands of young men left the area.
However many could not afford to and are now refusing to enrol either due to being against what they call the "murderous" regime, or because of the discrimination they would face within the regime military.
"Military service is obligatory, but it is a process of humiliation and oppression," Ziad Bara, a 24-year-old Daraa resident told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
He said that conscripts from areas that were formerly held by the Syrian opposition - including Daraa - "are treated with vengefulness".
Bara explained that those, like him, who "[did not] have a chance to get out of the country... don't know what the coming days may hold for us".
"Military service in the ranks of those who destroyed our homes... and killed our people is rejected... by the majority of society," another young man, Mazen, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, saying he believes those who enrol do so only for their own personal benefit.
"Only the regime wins when we kill each other," he added.
However, activist Abu Muhammad al-Hourani, who lives in western Daraa province said that "the majority of young people are not afraid."
He said that the regime has still not announced what will happen after the deadline's passing and that it may be in the regime's interests to extend the deadline.
"According to information we have, there is coordination between the regime and the UAE government to facilitate Syrians obtaining travel visas, so it may extend the deadline, or turn a blind eye to them leaving," lawyer Hassan Al-Aswad said.
"The goal is to empty the region of rebellious elements”
Al-Aswad says travel is the only opportunity for young men to avoid being prey "either to recruitment and death, or poverty."
The Syrian uprising began in March 2011, when Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad's regime violently cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.
Daraa province was formerly a stronghold of the Syrian opposition but fell under Assad regime control in 2018, following a military campaign.
Since the conflict began, over 500,000 lives have been lost - mostly at the hands of the regime and its ally Russia - and millions of Syrians have fled the country or been internally displaced, largely as a result of heavy shelling and bombardment.