Suwayda residents speak out against military service

sweida

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Pro-regime activists took to the streets of the Druze-majority city of Suwayda to distribute pamphlets condemning the mounting death toll among Suwayda's young men performing mandatory service in the regime army, reported pro-opposition Orient News Wednesday.

Here, a pamphlet reads “Enough is enough...the sons of Suwayda are being murdered in A-Raqqa and elsewhere...for whose sake...until when...the chair [of power] is for you [Bashar al-Assad]...and the tomb is for our sons,” while women in the picture to the left mourn over their deceased relatives.

The discontent with mandatory military service articulated in these pamphlets has surfaced in other pro-regime areas. Alawite activists—co-religionists of president Bashar al-Assad—distributed pamphlets in the Alawite-majority city of Tartus in August, reading “the chair for you [Assad], the coffins for our children,” referring to the disproportionate number of Alawites who have died in the war thus far.

Similarly, Alawite activists began the #Weinun [where are they] social media campaign in late August, demanding information about the 250 Syrian officers and soldiers executed by the Islamic State following the latter's takeover of the Tabqa military airport, and insisting on holding to account military and government figures responsible for the debacle.

In Suwayda, resentment of mandatory military service stretches back years, with over seven thousand individuals refusing to enlist since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011, reported London-based Saudi daily a-Sharq al-Awsat.

In one famous incident in late 2013, pro-regime gangs (shabiha) rounded up 470 youth for refusing to serve and held them in the Sadd al-Ain barracks. A group of local religious leaders later stormed the barracks and escorted the Suwayda youth out, according to an exposé published by Orient News in December 2013.

--October 9, 2014

-Photo courtesy of @Jde97

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