BEIRUT (Dispatches) – The Syrian government has announced an amnesty for men who deserted the army or have avoided military service, giving them several months to report for duty without facing punishment, it said on Tuesday.
In a decree issued on his social media feeds, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the amnesty covered all punishments for desertion inside or outside Syria.
Men inside Syria will have four months to take advantage of the amnesty while those outside will have six months.
Under Syrian military law, deserters can face years of prison if they leave their posts and do not report for service within a set amount of time.
While the amnesty covers desertion, it does not cover fighting against the government or joining the terrorists.
"This decree does not include fugitives from justice unless they turn themselves in within 4 months for those inside the country and 6 months for those outside the country,” Syria’s SANA news agency reported.
Tens of thousands of Syrian men are wanted by the government for not serving in the military or deserting the army during the years-long war waged by terrorists.
Under Syrian military law, deserters could be jailed for years if they leave their posts and do not report for service within a set amount of time.
The amnesty comes as Syria seems to be emerging from over seven years of foreign-backed militancy with the government preparing to liberate Idlib Province, the last terrorist stronghold in the country.
In the past three years, Russian and Iranian military support has helped Assad regain control of numerous enclaves held by anti-Assad terrorists, ending fighting in many areas.
After a Russian-Turkish deal to avert an assault on the last major opposition stronghold, in the northwest, it is unclear if there will be significant new military offensives soon.
Lebanon says 50,000 Syrian refugees, among the more than a million it says are on its soil, have gone home voluntarily in assisted returns this year.
However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says conditions have not yet been fulfilled for mass refugee returns. Speaking in Beirut in August, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said refugees were concerned about issues such as the lack of infrastructure.
In this file picture, militants are seen during clashes with Syrian army forces in the Mastouma neighborhood of Syria’s northwestern city of Idlib.