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Pro-regime Syrians take risks to dodge draft

The Syrian army is continuing to conscript recruits for compulsory military service, but young men, including supporters of the regime, are avoiding conscription at the risk of arrest and imprisonment.
People walk past damaged buildings as they shop on the eve of Eid al-Fitr in Idlib countryside July 27, 2014. The Eid al-Fitr festival marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. Picture taken July 27, 2014. REUTERS/Nour Kelze  (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT RELIGION) - RTR40CM6
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TARTUS, Syria — Through its steadfast agencies and institutions, the Syrian regime remains relentless in the areas it controls. On the Syrian coast, and in large swaths of Homs, Hama, Damascus and Suwayda, pro- as well as anti-regime residents are equally living according to the laws and regulations imposed by the Syrian regime. All men are required to fulfill compulsory military service or join military reserve forces. In addition to oppositionists who refuse to fight with the regime because of their political sympathies, there are hundreds of neutral or pro-regime citizens who do not wish to take part in the fighting.

Many of those summoned by the army to fulfill military service have left the regime-controlled areas for the areas held by rebel armed factions, some of whom join the factions while others live away from the fighting. A significant number of “draft dodgers” have also left the country for good, while some continue to live in regime-controlled areas either because they could not leave the country or didn’t want to leave. Despite the overwhelming risks draft dodgers take, in fear of being arrested or taken by force by the army, their living in regime-held areas has yet to become intolerable.

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