After fighting to defend the Assad regime, tens of thousands of loyal fighters from the coastal region of Syria have become crippled and dependent on their families and society. Now that they are of no service, the regime offers these veterans no support with no job prospects to help regain their independence.
Activists identified several former soldiers and militia members in the village of Sinjuan who returned to the village with disabilities. They indicated that pro-regime households in the area have at least one injured or disabled person who requires material and medical assistance.
Speaking to Zaman al-Wasl, activist Mohamad al-Saheli said that more than 100 people from the village of Sinjuan alone were killed fighting for the regime, while 70 young men are still unaccounted for and 50 fighters returned with permanent disabilities preventing them from working. More than 70 percent of the village’s youths have been either killed, are disabled, missing or have escaped to seek asylum. Those who have remained in the village await a fate similar to those who preceded them.
Authorities have neglected the majority of the fighters returning with disabilities. Their families are poor and are often dependent on female relatives to financially support the household. Many of the women work in agriculture, the service sector or “in jobs that were monopolized by men, such as brickwork, carpentry, factory work, industrial workshops and even professional car repair,” Saheli said.
Meanwhile, disabled men stay at home or move around the village in wheelchairs, with many requiring assistance to undertake the simplest of actions.
Death would have been more merciful
Wounded and disabled former fighters have voiced their discontent with the regime, regretting the sacrifices they had made to ensure its survival. Some have expressed their wish to die as an escape from their humiliating lives.
Speaking to Zaman al-Wasl, Ali. H, a former soldier, said that he wishes to die. “We left our families and went to perform our duty and defend the homeland. But the homeland and the master of the homeland throw us into the street like dogs, and we wait to see who will be kind to us, and the Red Crescent provides us with assistance that is funded by the enemies of the homeland," he said.
He added: “I need everything, and my wife’s salary, who works as a temporary laborer in the Agriculture Directorate, is barely enough to pay the rent and the expenses of my three children. So far I have not been accepted as a war casualty because I was a National Defense volunteer which they do not consider to be part of the army.”
Commenting on the Jabla News page, a veteran's sister named Samar J. described the neglect her brother received from medical authorities. "My brother was wounded by a sniper, and they took him to 601 Hospital in Al-Mazi where they conducted operations to remove his spleen, another operation for his kidneys and three of his spinal disks were crushed. He lost feeling in his legs. They checked him out of the hospital in under a week and handed over to us with a wound in his back still open. He suffered from a strong convulsion and went into a state of shock from the strength of the infection because they did not give us enough medication. I felt like 601 Hospital treated my brother like a terrorist and not a wounded army fighter. He was referred to Tishreen Hospital in Damascus, but they would not receive him so we went to Al-Watan Hospital, but my brother was finished and died by that point.”
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.