Due to a sharp shortage of troops and shabbiha fighters, President Bashar Assad is already using Iraqi Shiite militias, Hezbollah, Yemeni Houthis and Pakistani Shiite militias, in addition to the National Defense Troops and other sectarian militias.
As international pressure increased ahead of Geneva II, and pressure to minimize foreign militias (especially Hezbollah, which was forced to decrease the number of its fighters in Syria due to the domestic Lebanese situation), Assad had no choice but to recruit those who were technically still in the army but who were either retired or who had been dismissed or moved to civil positions, as a form of punishment.
Assad even issued a specific decree, No 72, allowing these specific groups back into the army, resuming the rank they had three years before they left.
Some say that the government is working hard to employ as many people as possible in the state’s military and civil institutions in order to take advantage of their votes in the upcoming presidential elections, as those who receive salaries from Assad's government will be obliged to vote for him.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer