We Stress That Conscription into the Ranks of Syrian Regime Forces, Who Are Involved in Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, Is a Major Obstacle to Refugees’ Return
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has released a report on military service in Syria, whose purpose is to provide relevant information regarding military service in the Syrian regime’s army for determining individuals’ international protection status, including refugee status and subsidiary protection.
The report relies on several human rights and research sources, most notably, in order of the number of quotes included:
The Center for Operational Analysis and Research (COAR): 42
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): 29
Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR): 15
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): 10
The report also cites other sources such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC), the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), and others.
The report, issued in April 2021, stated that since March 2011, one of the Syrian regime government’s main concerns was providing manpower to confront the popular uprising, referring to the regime army’s loss of many soldiers, with causes including death or injury, draft evasion, desertion and defection. The report adds that some men have fled the country because they do not want to perform military service for fear that they will be killed in combat, while others have defected from the army or avoided military service out of political conviction and in opposition to the Syrian regime. Throughout the conflict, the Syrian regime viewed the activities of wide categories of individuals as political dissent, the report notes, adding that evasion of conscription has been reported as one of the main reasons for young men aged over 18 fleeing Syria. Furthermore, the report cites a Forced Migration Review report issued by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, as saying ‘it is also one of the primary reasons why they cannot return’. The report further adds that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) found that 75 % of Syrian refugees are reluctant to return to Syria for fear of military conscription.