Will Assad’s New Fifth Corps Help Finish the Battle?

Serving volunteers want the regime to include them in the new Fifth Corps and supply them with a monthly salary, thereby taking advantage of the rampant poverty in Syria and the spread of unemployment

The Syrian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday the formation of a new corps of volunteers at a time when regime forces continue to incur heavy losses in their ranks during the war in Syria.

The ministry directed its invitation to Syrian civilians to volunteer in the “Fifth Corps” commando unit, claiming that its mission is to “eradicate the terrorists alongside the other regime forces formations.”

The regime issued its call to its support base in particular, which has recently begun to refrain from sending its youth to fight for the regime’s forces because of the heavy losses it has incurred during the fighting.

Mayan, a young man from the Al-Arman district of Homs, is currently a volunteer in the Assad regime forces. He has been assigned the task of standing at a military checkpoint at the Homs southern entrance. He told the Alsouria Net correspondent in Homs, Yaarib al-Dali, that he was taken three years ago from his neighborhood during an arrest campaign carried out by regime forces and taken to military service in 2013.

He said that the regime forces in the beginning of his service wanted to send him to the battle in Raqqa which was erupting at that time against the Islamic State group. He said that he was able to arrange mediation through one of his relatives in the security services and was discharged after his service period — at a time when the regime was forcing many to continue serving after having finished their duty — and that he was now a volunteer in the regime’s militias within Homs in an area that does not see clashes.

Mayan says that he sees what he is doing is not just a job with a good salary, but he also is able to take officer’s compensations (bribes) from the cars that pass through the checkpoint, adding that he returns to his house every two days and that this is the best job he could get.

There are many like Mayan in Assad’s forces, especially volunteers who now want the regime to include them in the Fifth Corps and supply them with a monthly salary, thereby taking advantage of the rampant poverty in Syria, and the spread of unemployment on a wide scale.

Abou Ali, a nickname for one of the volunteers in the National Defense Forces militia, told Alsouria Net that he will leave his current brigade and join the Fifth Corps in the hopes of getting a good salary and better incentives.

He said that he was an employee in one of the government factories but that it stopped production and the workers continued to receive their salaries for three months, but that did not last long. A military patrol came to the factory and gave all employees under 40 years old a deadline and two choices: Either go home without salaries and thereby lose their work, or join the military sector.

Abou Ali said that his friends joined the recruitment division and then they brought them to the Al-Shimas district in Homs and put them in a weapons training course, and after that they distributed them throughout the military sector.

He added that he managed through “wasta” (connections) to volunteer in the National Defense Forces so that he did not get forced into battle and instead remains at the checkpoints inside the cities with a guaranteed monthly salary.

Anger prevails among families that support the regime who sent their children to fight in their ranks, especially with the difference in treatment the families received in the regime institutions after the death of their children such as access to jobs and aid.

The preference will go to security officers and members of the intelligence branches and then to fighters in the ranks of what remains in the regime’s army, and finally to the volunteer members in local militias, which do not have many privileges, such as compensatory salaries for their families or compensation for injuries.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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