‘Come eat, you’re invited’ to dinner for 12, says army soldier

A bag of food meant to sustain 12 Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers for two meals raised the ire of regime supporters and soldiers online on Monday after pro-regime news site Suwayda News Firsthand posted an image on Facebook showing the rations.

“What can we say, really amazing support today…. Note: the reason this picture is being posted is because today really was extraordinary, don’t be surprised by one chicken for 12 people. Yes, the country is in crisis. How is this possible?! Come eat, you’re invited,” the photo’s caption reads.

“The food is not cleaned properly and is not enough for half the soldiers [in Suwayda],” Noura Elbasha, an activist and a member of the Union of Revolutionary Coordination Councils in Suwayda Province told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

“They wake up in the morning for breakfast of a boiled egg or a small piece of halawa [a tahini-based sweet]. The most common lunch is tomato molasses, potato and bulgur, while dinner is a boiled potato.”

Comments by regime loyalists on the photo expressed shock at the quantity, while alleging that the day-to-day reality for most Syrian soldier is far worse than the pictured offering of a single boiled chicken accompanied by potatoes, tomatoes, several peaches and a bundle of bread.

“Enough exaggerating, I am a soldier [in Suwayda] and I only get a potato for a meal every day at noon and a bundle of bread split between three of us,” said one commenter, Maher Alnajem.

“Most of the soldiers these days buy food using their own money,” Elbasha told Syria Direct.

The lack of food is not limited to Suwayda alone, however, and difficult conditions on the ground are taking a toll on army morale.

Two months ago, a Syrian soldier posted a picture of his daily rations consisting of a boiled egg, a potato, and three pieces of bread, expressing frustration with a lack of adequate rations.

Days since have seen little improvement, as the thinly spread and undermanned SAA fights its way into a fifth year of war. 

Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week praised the army and its international supporters.

Photo courtesy of Suwayda News Firsthand.

Moutasem Jamal

Moutasem Jamal studied English literature. He moved to Jordan after losing his job because of violence in his area.

Maria Nelson

Maria Nelson was a 2014-2015 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program (CASA I) in Amman, Jordan. She holds a BA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, with a certificate in Arabic Language and Culture.