Syria Offers Amnesty for Deserters and Draft Resisters

Offer aims to cover refugees who fled to avoid fighting

With the Syrian war mostly wrapped up, the process of reintegrating the public after a bloody rebellion has begun. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree on Tuesday offering blanket amnesty for those who either deserted the military during the war, or refused conscription, provided that they report for duty within the next several months.

With many refugees citing fear of punishment for not serving in the military as a reason not to return to Syria, the amnesty gives them special dispensation, giving them a full six months to return to Syria and report for duty, compared to four months for those within Syria.

Some of this is reflective of Syria’s shortage of military recruits after a long, ugly war. Yet with the fighting all but over, Assad is also clearly keen to give the appearance of putting the house back in order, and getting refugees to return would go a long way toward that.

Syria faced large-scale desertions early in the war, and a lot of people took their families abroad during that time. Though deserters will not face punishment, those who joined rebel factions are not covered.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.