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Syria Today – Plans to Demobilize Tens of Thousands of Reservists; Latest SNHR Report on Torture

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Plans to Demobilize Tens of Thousands of Reservists; Latest SNHR Report on Torture

AFP reported that Syria plans the phased demobilization of tens of thousands of reservists from next month, a defense ministry official said, as fighting in the civil war has wound down in recent years.

“Tens of thousands will be demobilized by the end of the current year, and the same next year, while maintaining combat readiness and acting in the interests of the people,” Major General Ahmed Sleiman told Syrian state television late Wednesday.

The Syrian army is composed of three main groups: Soldiers who enlist voluntarily, those conscripted as part of compulsory military service, and reservists, who have completed their service but can be summoned for further duty at any time.

Over the years, the army leadership repeatedly extended reservists’ terms of service — currently set at six years — and failed to demobilize soldiers whose compulsory military service had ended.

Sleiman said the demobilization of reservists will be based on a three-phase plan beginning next month and running until the end of October 2025.

Reserve service will be reduced to a maximum of two years in the final phase, he added.

Sleiman said the decision aimed to “achieve an advanced army that relies on voluntary enlistment, through a new volunteer contract,” according to which anyone who has completed five years of service and does not wish to continue will be discharged.

Those who enlisted voluntarily and have served for 10 years will be exempted from all reserve service, he added.

The military has announced several demobilizations since the conflict broke out.

On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: SNHR Has Documented the Death of 15,383 Syrians Under Torture Since March 2011

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) released its 13th annual report on torture in Syria, highlighting the grim statistics and ongoing issues related to torture practices since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

Key findings include:

– Deaths Due to Torture: 15,383 Syrians have died under torture, including 199 children and 115 women. The Syrian regime is responsible for 98% of these deaths.

– Detentions and Disappearances: 157,287 people, including 5,264 children and 10,221 women, remain detained or forcibly disappeared. The Syrian regime accounts for 86% of enforced disappearances.

– Specific Accountability: The Syrian regime has been responsible for 15,098 deaths due to torture. Other groups responsible for torture-related deaths include ISIS, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and armed opposition factions/Syrian National Army (SNA).

– Civil Registry Records: 1,632 forcibly disappeared people have been registered as dead without their bodies being returned or causes of death disclosed.

– Caesar Photos: SNHR has identified 1,017 victims from the leaked ‘Caesar Photos,’ documenting torture victims in regime military hospitals.

The report underscores that torture remains a systematic practice in regime detention centers, amounting to crimes against humanity. It calls for:

– International Action: Urges the international community to take punitive measures against the Syrian regime and apply pressure on all parties to stop using torture.

– Legal Accountability: Advocates for the prosecution of perpetrators under universal jurisdiction and adherence to the Geneva Conventions.

– Support for Victims: Calls for compensation for victims’ families, immediate release of arbitrarily detained individuals, and disclosure of the fate of forcibly disappeared persons.

The report emphasizes the need for continued monitoring and intervention to prevent further torture and human rights violations in Syria.

Israeli strikes said to kill 2 in Syria, flatten building in Lebanon, wounding 5

The Israeli military allegedly struck targets in Syria and Lebanon on Wednesday night, according to state media in the two countries, Times of Israel reported.

Two people were killed in an Israeli strike on southern Syria, the Syria Media  reported, citing a military source.

The strike was reportedly near Sayyida Zeinab, which is home to an important Shiite sanctuary and is defended by pro-Iranian militias and the Syrian army.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strike targeted the service center of a foundation affiliated with pro-Iranian groups, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group, and killed three people, including an elderly woman, with another 11 injured.

SOHR, run by a single person, has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of false reporting and inflating casualty numbers as well as inventing them wholesale.

Syria open to plans to mend relations with Turkey, Assad says

Syria is open to efforts aimed at repairing relations with Turkey, President Bashar Al Assad said.

He made the comments on Wednesday during a meeting with Russia’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, according to The National.

Any initiatives to mend ties between Damascus and Ankara should respect the sovereignty of the Syrian state, Mr Al Assad said.

Attempts at reconciliation between Syria and Turkey have failed to achieve progress since early 2023, despite meetings in Moscow between the countries’ foreign and defence ministers.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said any dialogue between his country and Turkey should only take place after Ankara announces a plan to withdraw its troops from all Syrian territory.

He was speaking at a press conference with Iran’s acting foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, after Turkey threatened to act against Kurdish-led authorities in north-eastern Syria as they prepare to hold municipal elections.

Syrian, Egyptian migrants tortured in Libya detention camp

A leaked video appears to show irregular migrants from Egypt and Syria being stripped and humiliated by Libyan security forces who form part of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency, according to Israeli Website MEMRI

The European Union (EU) and UK have entered agreements to pay Libyan authorities to return boats of irregular migrants heading to Europe, this is in spite of Amnesty warning that ‘Libya is not a safe port of disembarkation for refugees and migrants’ and a CNN report finding that Sub-Saharan migrants were being sold off as slaves.

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