Syria: "global war" combatants .. End of service without "medals"

Stories Monday 02nd July 2018 |Rozana - Ahmed Nazir / Rana Al zein

The demobilised soldiers of the Syrian regime's 102 session returned to their civilian lives after eight years of fighting for it; that is, since the first months following the Syrian revolution against the regime, and the subsequent clashes and bombardments of cities and towns .

This pivotal shift in the lives of those demobilised is accompanied by great difficulties in adapting to their new reality, especially that the regime's government does not give them  any advantages. Firas, a demobilised soldier, said that he woke up at night and his hand was cramped from shooting during his "dream." Khalid, an accounting graduate, revealed that the years of service made him forget the multiplication table, while Mohammed is longing for the military uniform, not for any reason , but because it "gave him prestige and authority," as he put it.

This session recruits were scheduled to be demobilised in November 2011, but the Syrian regime decided to retain them. The decision to demobilise them remained a dream and rumours until it was confirmed in May 2018.

The regime's government recently revealed its intention to form a government committee to develop proposals for granting advantages to the demobilised soldiers of the 102 session , while a member of the Syrian People's Council, Fares al-Shehabi, called on the public and private sectors to secure jobs for the demobilised soldiers.  

Shooting chases the demobilised soldiers in their dreams! 

Firas, 25, has not yet got out of the atmosphere of fighting and shelling that he has lived for more than eight consecutive years, during his battle with the regime's army. Psychological support should preferably be the first advantage granted by the regime's government to the demobilised soldiers of the 102 session. 

He told Rozana: "That night I was shooting in my sleep and my hands were cramped. My mother tried to wake me up, but I was scared and started to scream," he explained. "We were socially absent and we suffered psychological traumas, the first of which was the absence of our sense of safety." 


Comments of a number of the demobilised soldiers of session 102

 

Demobilised soldiers do not even remember (multiplication table)!

Khaled, 30, graduated from a banking institute. After graduating immediately, he joined the regime army in the 102 session. He said jokingly: "Now that I have been demobilised, I even forgot the multiplication table."

He stressed that the regime government must "pass laws that facilitate the partial return of the 102  session soldiers to the institutes and universities to help them remember what they have learned, and issue university admission specific to demobilised soldiers. 

The military uniform was "prestige and authority"!

Mohammed, 22, from Damascus said that "the military uniform that we were wearing and that intimidated civilians and gave us the upper hand in everything (gas stations, bakeries and any government institution) ... is now gone, and respect is gone as soon as we remove the military uniform." 

Mohammed tries to register in the "employment office," which is the office of the regime government in charge of registering job applications. He said: "Despite the difficult conditions we went through while in service and staying sometimes for days without food, the material burdens were not a problem for us. Now, securing a job is what really disturbs me."

"Many people call us the extinct session, as soon as I present  myself saying that I am from the 102 session, someone yells at me: you are still alive," he clarified.

Most of the demands of the demobilised soldiers from session 102 mainly revolve around providing them with financial and economic support and giving them advantages in the fields of job opportunities, housing and facilities to complete education for those who wish to.

Many killed and injured officers... The number of the rest is unrevealed

The demobilisation decision raises nowadays many questions on the real number of recruits, the rank of the officers and officers who were demobilised from this batch, especially since they fought in continuous battles in all Syrian territories and many of them were killed and injured.

There were conflicting reports about the real number of those who were included in the demobilisation, as the Syrian regime did not issue a clear statement in this regard.

While Russia Today (RT) TV channel mentioned that the number of non-dissidents and fleeing demobilised soldiers reached 9,400, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights insisted that the number of demobilised soldiers reached 15,000.

Facebook pages of media activists pointed out that there had been 90,000 soldiers in the session when it joined the regime’s army in 2010. Tens of thousands of them left the session after refusing to participate in military operations against cities and towns. The Facebook pages revealed  that only about 16,000 soldiers have remained, which means that the majority of them have been included in the demobilisation decision.

The recent demobilisation did not include those who had been withdrawn to the reserve service after 2011, knowing that members of the 102 session had already been dismissed in early 2012, because they had previously participated in (university military training).

War-injured soldiers... Some of them afforded the cost of medical treatment by begging

In the city of Tartus (Central West), there have been a circulated video of a recruiter named "Mohammed Medwar" who was exempt from compulsory and reserve services, after suffering 10 percent disability in his body due to the military operations.


The video shows the demobilised soldier sleeping in the streets of the city of Tartus and begging in order to collect money for an eye surgery.


Injured soldier "begging" in a street in Tartus to collect money and undergo surgery


The World Health Organisation said that more than three million Syrians suffer from disabilities and injuries; one-third of them are children, half of them suffer from permanent disabilities, and about 86,000 of them are amputees. The organisation insisted that they need more attention and support.

In a report it published on December 13, 2017, the organisation said that 1.5 million Syrians were disabled due to conflicts and war in Syria after 2011, with an average of 30,000 injuries per month.

On March 23, 2016, al-Assad and his wife received injured soldiers with their families on the occasion of Mother's Day. A video circulated by media outlets showed al-Assad's wife telling one of the victims that the economic sanctions were the reason for the lack of medical material for treatment. It is noteworthy that the sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime do not include medical supplies of various uses, whether pharmaceutical or technical supplies, such as prosthetics.

The Syrian government news agency SANA said that the prosthetic and rehabilitation services in Syria are provided through nine governmental and private centres. Some of them are for military medical services, others belong to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and other centres belong to civil associations in Damascus, in addition to several private centres.

No compensation for the demobilised soldiers... The families of the dead soldiers have priorities in employment

The demobilised soldiers complained that they were not financially compensated by the Syrian army. In the meanwhile, a draft resolution, issued by the regime government  on the amendment of the salary scale for both members of the army and the police, had been exempted.

Facebook page Soldiers of Session 102 quoted the military veterans saying: "The government spilled cold water on our faces and we went back to a life of wretchedness... No jobs, nothing and we were forgotten by everybody. We became a memory now, war veterans?” 

One of the demobilised soldiers, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Rozana: "I went to the Department of Agriculture with the intention of being recruited according to the circular issued by the Prime Minister of the 2013 government, which calls for the recruitment of every soldier having a middle school certificate and who joined the military service before 2013 and had been disqualified afterward."

He went on: "I believed the news as usual and I went to the Department of Agriculture to submit my application, as I held a degree in agriculture. To my surprise, the employee in charge of receiving applications said that applications similar to mine and dating to more than 3 years were all put on hold.."


 


Another facebook page, “We Demand to Demobilise the Fighters of Session 102,” claimed that the compensations directed to the rank of an assistant officer amounts to about 600,000 Syrian Pounds, equivalent to $1,200 dollars.

The demobilised fighters of session 102 did not receive any financial compensation, while the President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree, days after the decision to relief the soldiers of duty,  to increase military salaries by 30 percent.


In mid-March 2011, the first protests began in Syria, calling for reforms in the country and the lifting of the state of emergency. However, the excessive use of force by the Syrian regime resulted in raising the ceiling of the demonstrators’ demands, calling for overthrowing the whole system.

Afterward, the Syrian regime involved the army in repressing the Syrian people, storming of cities and sieges, which compelled a large number of soldiers to desert their military posts. At the same time, some of the Syrian youth joined the Free Syrian Army, while thousands of others decided to leave the country for fear of being recruited for military service.

In recent years, the Syrian government and Bashar al-Assad have issued several decrees, granting the families of the regime's killed soldiers advantages and facilities in several areas, including access to jobs and university enrolment.

During the past several years, photographs and video recordings have shown that the regime's army honoured the families of deceased fighters by awarding them wall clocks, blankets and herds of goats.

It is noteworthy that the Syrian regime sought to compensate for the shortage of soldiers by recruiting groups of fighters after training them as part of national defence. The regime has also used foreign fighter groups from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and other nationalities supported by Iran, as well as Russian logistic and military support.