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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Syria issues amnesty for missed military service

Thousands of men are wanted by the state after refusing to fight or joining rebel groups 

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has said that those wanting amnesty must hand themselves in within four months if they are in still in the country. EPA/Sana, HO 
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has said that those wanting amnesty must hand themselves in within four months if they are in still in the country. EPA/Sana, HO 

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has signed a decree granting amnesty to all those who deserted the military, did not follow conscription notices or follow military orders during to the country’s civil war.

The state-run SANA news agency reported on Tuesday that Al Assad had issued the amnesty order but said that it would only be valid if those wanted by the state handed themselves in within four months if they were in Syria, or six months if they were outside the country.

Tens of thousands of Syrian men wanted by the state for not serving in the military or deserting the army during the long and bloody conflict. Many fear returning to Syria due to the threat of arrest and imprisonment.

Despite previous amnesty announcements, or processes for people to appease the government by paying a fine, many fear that they will not be applied in all cases.

Hundreds of refugees living in Lebanon have returned to Syria this year under a system run by the country’s General Security.

All those who​ ​​​​​​apply to go have their names checked against Syrian databases of wanted people to ensure that no one returning is unsafe to do so. However, there have been reports of arrests of recent returnees for issues such as skipping military service or supporting the revolution.

In the early days of the war, there were mass desertions from the army as many joined the rebels or refused to fight.

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