After manpower shortages, Assad 'forcing' civil servants to fight

After manpower shortages, Assad 'forcing' civil servants to fight
3 min read
07 March, 2016
The Syrian regime is forcing civilians in areas it holds to "volunteer" in militias created to man checkpoint but also to fight on the front
The "volunteers" are being sent to fight on the fronts to compensate manpower shortages [AFP]
"There were 600 people in our course. Each recruit had 6 olives for breakfast. It was a starvation course," said one Syrian civil servant who was forced to attend a military training course in Shamsin.

The Syrian government set up the training camp for new recruits in the central area covering Hama and Homs, before dispatching them with militias to fight on the battlefronts.

Shamsin is located in southwestern Homs. The idea behind it and similar camps has to do with the Syrian regime's bid to compensate for the lack of manpower in the fight against the Syrian rebels.

After the Syrian regime opened new fronts in Latakia, Homs, Hama and Daraa following Russia's military intervention, foreign militias have been unable to supply the needed number of fighters.

The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alluded to the shortage of soldiers publicly in July 2015. 

Since then, there have been multiple attempts to recruit fighters for the regime.
In mid-February, the Syrian Army General Command called on Syrians in regime-held areas to enlist in new "volunteer" brigades.
Checkpoints or fronts?

The regime has since relied on local militias such as the Baath Brigades, Falcons of the Desert, National Defence Forces, the Coastal Shield and the Syrian Resistance for the Liberation of Iskandarun in the coast.

Some of these militias, such as the Hama Baath Battalion, comprises labourers from defunct factories, including from textile, iron, wool and cement plants.

The battaltion's task is to control checkpoints in Hama, after troops that manned them previously were deployed to the front.

In mid-February, the Syrian Army General Command called on Syrians in regime-held areas to enlist in new "volunteer" brigades.

These brigades would comprise civilians, including civil servants, students and volunteers to be trained and then organised into popular committees to protect the areas they reside in.

After securing hundreds of "volunteers", the Syrian regime sent them to the Shamsin camp.

The opposition-aligned Hama Media Centre, quoting officials in the camp, said the current training round has 600 volunteers, mostly civilians and civil servants mobilised from the departments they work in.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said these recruits would be deployed directly to the front, and denied their mission would be to man checkpoints in cities for more than ten days.

Sources told The New Arab the recruits would be sent to fight in the coast, Aleppo's northern and southern countryside areas and the Hama countryside.
The priority now is to compensate the shortage in manpower in the battle with the 'terrorists'
Forced to volunteer 

The sources said a previous batch of recruits was sent to fight in Palmyra, where they all perished.

There is a lot of resentment among the volunteers, the sources added, citing bad treatment.

The sources said that many recruits were told their presence was on a volunteer basis. But when several tried to leave the training, regime forces compelled them to return.

The sources also said the civil servants are given 15 days after receiving orders to mobilise to accept the assignment or face being sacked from their jobs.

"Every government institution is required to submit lists of names of employees to the army, even if this disrupts the work of these institutions," the sources said.

"The priority now is to compensate the shortage in manpower in the battle with the terrorists," the sources added.