Random Arrests Target Lattakia Youths for Mandatory Military Service

Activists claim coastal city has witnessed a crackdown on military-aged males with sporadic arrests targeting students and only children between 18-35 years old

Regime security forces have arrested dozens of young people in the city of Lattakia for mandatory service in the Syrian army, causing many locals to stay indoors amid a state of prevailing fear in the coastal city.

Mohammed al-Sahili, correspondent for Lattakia’s media network, reported that dozens of foot patrols have roamed the streets arresting all males aged between 18 and 35 years, with the number of detainees exceeding 100 on Tuesday between morning and evening.

Sahili added that "the city was in a state of panic because people who [were] arrested were either queuing at bakeries or wandering in the market or sitting at cafes.”

Moreover, Sahili said the fixed barriers throughout the city forced young people to leave buses and taxis making them vulnerable to arrest.

The correspondent said that even those who held documents proving their exemption from service due to study or being an only child were subjected to arrest, adding that all detainees were transported to recruitment centers for mandatory military service or reserve duty.

Sources reported to Zaman al-Wasl that some detainees were released after paying bribes to officers in the recruitment centers, adding that some of the released men were advised to leave the country to avoid repeating the same experience.

Zaher, one of the young detainees, mentioned that his father paid one million Syrian pounds ($4,500) to secure his release, swearing that he would leave the country in any way possible.

A state of panic has overcome parents whose sons have not returned home. Abou Amjad, from the Salaiba neighborhood, is worried because his only son has not returned from university. “I do not want to lose my only son in fighting with the Syrian regime, if he came back, I would hide him at home,” he said in panic. While mother Om Maher’s cry, “Bring me my son, he is ill, he cannot fight,” could be heard from the city’s streets.

The Syrian regime had commenced a similar campaign to round up youths for mandatory recruitment in other areas like Jableh, south of Lattakia.

Experts have noted that a continuous depletion of manpower has afflicted the Syrian army over a period of five years. According to source Abou Ayham, a senior commander in the countryside of Lattakia, dozens of soldiers were killed in five days of fighting in Hadada.

“Arresting and mandatorily recruiting youth is expected, otherwise how would the regime compensate for all those losses in soldiers: We advise youth to hide at home or to come to the liberated areas to help them in departing the country,” Abou Ayham added.

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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