Assad regime tightens screws in Deir Ezzor, conscripting its own militia members, while Iran's militias lure recruits with drugs, higher pay: report

Dec 21, 2020

The Syrian regime's army in Deir Ezzor governorate is trying to compensate for its human losses after long battles its forces have fought against the Syrian opposition factions in various Syrian cities, in addition to recent attacks on its army forces blamed on Daesh (ISIS), by imposing forced recruitment on young men in the area.

SY24 reports that regime's security branches have been active in the city of Deir Ezzor, aiming to press-gang young men who failed to perform their compulsory service into serving in the army, as well as demanding that reserves serve in the army’s ranks.

Officers from the regime’s military police branch, accompanied by civilian police patrols, have deployed mobile checkpoints at the entrances to neighborhoods and in main streets and in markets in the city in order to arrest young men wanted for service in the army.

At the same time, the pro-regime National Defense militia has announced that it is to abruptly stop accepting applications to join its ranks, after directives from the new commander of the city's security committee, Major General Nizar Al-Khader.

A number of members of the National Defense’ militia were arrested by the regime's patrols despite their participation in long battles for the militia, due to their failure to serve in the formal regime military.

‘Omar’, a native of Deir Ezzor, reported that regime army patrols are spreading heavily inside the city and in its residential neighborhoods, arresting and arresting young people with the aim of forcing them into the army.

Omar told SY24: "It doesn’t matter if you belong to the National Defense or you’re a university student or if you’re too old, all that’s important is that they will take you [to serve in the army] if you don’t pay a large bribe.”

He added, "Some patrols take huge sums of money in exchange for your immediate release, which is why most of the young people decided to flee to the SDF areas or stay at home."

Young men in Deir Ezzor city are terrified due to the repeated forcible recruitment campaigns carried out by the regime, especially after the increase in the number of its deaths as a result of purported ISIS attacks in the Syrian Badia [desert area].

Meanwhile, Iranian militias in the city are recruiting young people to fight for them in another way, by luring them with money and drugs, with periodic recruitment campaigns run through local ‘cultural centres’ set up by the Iranian regime in a number of cities and towns in Deir Ezzor, assisted by local mediators affiliated with and paid by these militias.

Iranian militias are exploiting the deteriorating economic and social situation of most young unemployed men in the area, as well as these youths’ fear of the regime's compulsory conscription into the ranks of the regime's army.

It is noteworthy that ISIS previously arrested hundreds of young men and men in the city of Deir Ezzor, due to what it called at the time “legal violations”, forcing them to dig trenches and fortifications at the points of engagement with regime forces, which led to dozens of these prisoners being killed in clashes between ISIS and the regime at those points, before the terror group’s first withdrawal from the city at the end of 2017.

After thousands fled the area to escape Daesh previously, a large number of Deir Ezzor residents are now trying to leave towards the areas controlled by the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ or towards the areas of the Syrian opposition in the north, in order to escape forced conscription.

Original report from SY24

Photo from Deir Ezzor 24