Young men from Suwayda fled from mandatory military service in the regime's ranks on Saturday after learning that they would be stationed outside the Druze-majority province, reported Swaida Khabar.
“The young men of Suwayda have become convinced that the protection of the province does not demand service in the regime's army, but rather standing with what's right,” Noura al-Basha, a Druze member of the Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union in Suwayda, tells Moatasem Jamal.
Q: Who exactly are the Suwayda young men who fled from the regime's training camps—when did they join up, and why did they flee?
“The young men who ran away from the “Sadd al-Ain” camp in the southern portion of Suwayda were either defected soldiers who were hiding in their homes, or those who never showed up for reserve mandatory service in the first place.
After the announcement by Sheikh al-Hijri [here] that should these men enlist they would be pardoned and would serve inside Suwayda, some thought service would [be a good way to] rid them of the checkpoints problem. That is to say, everyone wanted for service in the regime army can't pass by checkpoints.
So they enlisted and were placed in Sadd al-Ain [in southern Suwayda]. As they were being sorted, a portion were set to be sent to Daraa and another group to Homs, to a-Rastan specifically. At that point they packed up their bags and left Sadd al-Ain, [refusing to serve and] heading towards Sheikh Waheed al-Balaus’s house in the village of al-Mazraa.”
Suwayda youth seek shelter with Sheikh Balaus. Photo courtesy of Swaida Khabar.
Q: Did the flight of these young men change the opinion of other Suwayda youth who were thinking of serving?
“The young men of Suwayda have become convinced that the protection of the province does not demand service in the regime's army, but rather standing with what's right and only what's right. To begin with, Suwayda does not need those who would protect it from its own people and the people of Syria.”
Q: How did the Men of Dignity and Sheikh Balaus react to these young men who fled from mandatory military service?
“Sheikh Balaus made a pledge to protect these young men, who remained at his house for an unspecified amount of time. Some are still there even now. Balaus made clear to them that he doesn't want them to serve in the regime's army, and if the regime continued to act the way it has been at its recruitment centers, he will close them down. All the young men were convinced by his words and decided to stand with him.”