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In Syria’s Deir ez-Zor, SDF conscription ‘severs livelihoods’

The Syrian Democratic Forces' recent campaign to conscript youth for military service is compounding economic hardship in Deir ez-Zor province, one of the poorest areas of Syria. In villages where the campaign is most active, young men are staying home for fear of arrest, forgoing daily wages and delaying grocery purchases to avoid passing by checkpoints.
Members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attend the funeral of an Arab fighter in SDF who was killed the previous week in the eastern Deir Ezzor province, in northeastern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on April 10, 2019. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Young men in Deir ez-Zor province, one of the poorest and most volatile areas of Syria, are contending with a fresh challenge to their livelihoods heaped on top of widespread unemployment, inflation and violence: conscription into military units affiliated with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In WhatsApp interviews with Al-Monitor over the past three weeks, eight Deir ez-Zor residents, from day laborers to white-collar professionals, described how the prospect of arrest for service had threatened, reduced or cut off their incomes. They say conscription is an undue burden on youth who in many cases are barely keeping their families afloat. The paltry salary offered to conscripts, a fraction of what is given to volunteer soldiers, has fueled resentment.

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