In a televised speech on Sunday in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to win his country’s long-running civil war. He has acknowledged his troops are struggling to maintain control. The major issue is the lack of manpower.
Syrian president also tried to justify why the Syrian army has given up some areas of Syria. Assad said it was predominantly due to military priorities. Here are some of his words:
It was necessary to specify critical areas for our armed forces to hang on to. Concern for our soldiers forces us to let go of some areas (…)
Every inch of Syria is precious (…)
There is a lack of human resources [in the army] (…)
But that doesn’t mean we can talk about collapse (…) We will resist… the armed forces are capable of defending the motherland.
Syria’s army once had around 300,000 members. Unfortunately it has been reduced in size by deaths and defections. In order to avoid the manpower shortages and the worst case scenario of losing the war, Assad has called an amnesty for those who have avoided military service or deserted the army, according to SANA.
The decree applies to those who have fled Syria and those still living there, the country’s state agency reported, however it does not include people who joined rebel forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 70,000 men have avoided military service while more than 80,000 soldiers and pro-government fighters have been killed since March 2011 when the conflict started.
Syria has a conscript army with 18 months compulsory service. Deserters normally face imprisonment.
On the geopolitical level, the question remains whether Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would step in again to help Syria’s Assad? This is not any unrealistic scenario as last month, he reaffirmed Russia’s support for the Syrian leader.