Report: 21,000 Syrian Soldiers Defected Since 2011

Document reflects the deteriorating condition of the Syrian army, overstretched by a four-year long insurgency

Zaman al-Wasl recently obtained a list of 21,000 Syrian army defectors across the war-torn country, a document that reflects the deteriorating condition of regime forces since revolution erupted in March 2011.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday issued a decree announcing general amnesty for military deserters who violated the country's compulsory military conscription law, state television said.

Overstretched by a four-year long insurgency, the Syrian army continues to face battles on several major fronts after Islamist rebels and ultra-hardline jihadist militants seized large swathes of territory.

In recent months, the Assad regime has responded to the shortage of military manpower through the recruitment of loyalist militias in state-controlled provinces, where volunteers are offered lucrative pay.

"We must define the important regions that the armed forces hold onto so it doesn't allow the collapse of the rest of the areas", Assad said. "The army is capable … Everything is available, but there is a shortfall in human capacity", Assad added in speech aired by state media on Sunday.

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