To fill the ranks of a depleted Syrian army, al-Souria.net reported that recently the Assad regime instituted a forced enlistment policy to be drawn from the ranks of its civilian government employees. This morning, “Sham-FM”, a pro-Assad radio station announced the death of its first forced enlistees in north Homs. Assad’s forced enlistments claim its first victim who happens to be a government employee named Ismail and who worked at the Syrian Water Resource Department.
Imagine asking a census employee to go fight ISIS in Syria overnight to get a sense of how desperate Assad is for bodies to fight.
The angry reaction from the public-at-large has been swift. Many Syrians took to social media to condemn this forced enlistment practice the Assad government has labeled as “volunteers”. Some who went through the 20-day mandatory training divulged that most of it was left in the hands of Orthodox priests who prayed for their souls every single day and instilled in them a sense of invincibility. A fantastical experiment of body and mind fusion as in Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac play.
The rancor was most bitter among pro-Assad civilians and which, for the most part, were addressed against the Assad Shabeeha who have been refusing to serve on the fronts and who have been forcing civilians to enlist and die for their cause. Some of the pro-Assad civilians’ complaints centered around how cheap is their death as compared to those in the pro-Assad militias or Hezbollah who receive a whole ceremonial cortege honoring their sacrifices.
Some who called the Sham-FM station recounted the real story of the life of Ismail, the first forced enlistee to die. One day, the Assad security apparatus came to his place of work at the Water Department and asked him to choose between getting fired from his work or enlisting to fight the “terrorists”. Ismail, who already owed much money that paid for his on-going education, had no choice but to enlist to fight for Assad even though he was not trained or equipped to confront seasoned fighters on some of the deadliest fronts in Homs.
To keep the pro-Assad civilian crowds fearful, some calling the radio station recounted how a convoy of trucks passed through Wadi al-Dahab in Homs suburbs where some 24 Afghanis stepped out and began showing off to the public their battle readiness by climbing poles and carrying heavy barrels. The whole exercise was to remind the pro-Assad civilians of how threatening the regime still is even if it there are no more Syrian army and security personnel left in the country to strike fear in their hearts.