Assad admits decline of his army

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. SANA

ARA News

Damascus, Syria – President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that the Syrian Arab Army faces a shortage of manpower and may be forced to give up some positions, amid a five-year-old war in the country.

The Syrian president said during a speech, at a gathering of trade and professional unions in Damascus, that the army faces a shortfall in manpower and may have to give up some positions in order to hold on to others of greater importance in its war with armed opposition. 

“We are not collapsing. We are steadfast and will achieve victory,” said Assad, who was interrupted several times by applause. “Defeat does not exist in the dictionary of the Syrian Arab army.”  

The estimated number of fighters in the Syrian regime’s army was about 200.000 before the start of crisis in March 2011, in addition to more than 300.000 reservists.

The opposition parties estimate the number of dissident soldiers during the past four years with more than 40.000 soldiers.

Assad said that his government did not want war “but when it was imposed on us, the Syrian Arab Army repelled the terrorists everywhere.” Assad refers to any rebel group fighting against his rule as terrorists.

The speech appeared to be an effort by Assad to boost morale of his supporters and warn certain communities in regime-held areas about the perils of not contributing more to the regime’s defense.

“The army’s strength comes from its manpower and if we want the army to give its best, then we must give the most of what we have,” he added. 

“If we want the army to operate at maximum strength, then we must provide for all its manpower needs. Everything else is available, but there is a shortage in manpower because of the reason I mentioned.”

Assad said that the shortage in manpower was largely due to desertions and defections, and that many people were evading calls for reservists and mandatory military service.

Noteworthy, the Syrian president issued a decree on Saturday for a legislative that absolve the crimes committed in relation to military service (conscription) and those who escaped the so-called national duty.

Reporting by: Ahmed Shiwesh  

Source: ARA News

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