Deir-ez-Zor Youths Arrested by Regime in Forced Conscription Campaign: Activists

Regime forces and loyalist militias launch massive arrest campaign in eastern province in effort to bolster troop numbers in fight against ISIS

Assad forces and the National Defense Forces (NDF) militia on Friday launched their largest arrest campaign targeting young people, some no older than 14 years old, in regime-controlled areas of Deir-ez-Zor province in an effort to bolster their fighting forces against the Islamic State group.

According to the “Deir-ez-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently” campaign, NDF militia leader Firas al-Jiham executed a young man in al-Wadi Street for refusing to accept the mandatory recruitment and participate in fighting beside the militia, which is notorious for its kidnapping, robbery and rape.

Activist and member of the campaign Ahmad Ramadan told Zaman al-Wasl that Jiham has close ties to Syrian Army Major General Mohamed Khadour and is also responsible for the kidnapping of a girl a few months ago.

Ramadan said there are two rival forces operating within the regime's military in Deir-ez-Zor. The first force follows Major General Mohamed Khadour, which includes the NDF militia, while the second force follow the leader of the military operation in Deir-ez-Zor, General Issam Zahr al-Deen, and includes fighters from Jaish al-Ashaer (the Tribal army).

Jaish al-Ashaer was previously expelled from regime-controlled areas in the eastern city and banned from entering the Jawrah and Qusoor neighborhoods with their weapons following clashes with NDF members.

Field activist “Mohamed al-Furati” said that in addition to his work as a leader of the NDF militia, Jiham is considered one of the biggest drug dealers in the area. He is also one of the brokers for regime security agencies regarding detainees arrested on political or criminal charges.

In the first incident of its kind, Jiham and NDF forces stormed a Syrian Red Crescent first aid center in a regime-controlled area of Deir-ez-Zor, confiscating medical supplies and forcing staff to aid injured regime fighters in Jabal al-Thardeh.

Prior to the revolution in 2011, Jiham was arrested on drug dealing charges, as well as facilitating prostitution and theft.

This article was 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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