Syrian Military Splitting

Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarionproject.org, the founder of WorldThreats.com and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel. He can be contacted at ryanmauro1986@gmail.com.


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“You did not join the army to protect the Assad clan. If you are an honorable officer, remain honorable, and if you are not honorable, stand by the Assad clan,” said First Lieutenant Abd Al-Razzaq Muhammad Tlas from the 5th Division.

There are even defections from the Republican Guard. Waleem Qashami told Amnesty International that he decided to quit after he saw three children, a young man, and a young woman killed in Harasta near Damascus in April. He and five others then abandoned the military. “We in the Republican Guard took an oath to protect the country, its citizens and leader, not to betray the country…We saw no armed gang. We didn’t even see anyone carrying a knife,” he said.

The questionable loyalty of the military is why the Assad regime is importing members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah. Refugees in Turkey say that bearded soldiers that do not speak Arabic are involved in the attacks on Jisr al-Shughour. One farmer said that the combatants admitted they were Iranians. A soldier who escaped to Turkey confirmed that the Iranians and Hezbollah are helping the regime, and are executing those who don’t follow orders.

There have been reports of defections since the uprising began in Daraa. The chief of police of that city and some of his officers were fired by the regime, and video emerged of soldiers leading protesters. There were also clashes in Daraa between defected members of the 5th Division and Maher Assad’s 4th Division. Between 60 and 70 soldiers exchanged fire with Assad loyalists in Homs earlier this month, with one witness reporting a clash between two tanks after 200 soldiers and 14 officers defected in Arrasta.

In May, the regime claimed that 10 soldiers were murdered in Homs, but the opposition says they were killed for defecting. A group of soldiers fought for two hours in Homs to defend the residents from attack. “Stiff resistance” from civilians armed with automatic rifles and RPGs in Tabliseh and Rastan in Homs Province has also been reported. In another incident, three soldiers who defended refugees from the Shabbiha militia tried to flee to Lebanon. One died from a gunshot before making the escape. The two survivors were then arrested and handed over to the Assad regime.

The fractures in the military are a positive development, but there defections are still not of a large scale like in Libya. There is no central location that has been freed of government control like Benghazi. Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian democratic activist, says that this will not happen until the international community demands Assad’s resignation.

“Syrian army generals are the most paranoid in the world…until the West makes it clear that they view Bashar as illegitimate and they want him out, they will not make the leap themselves,” Abdulhamid told FrontPage.

He also said that the structure of the military prevents mid-level officers from rebelling. “[They must] try to refrain from engaging in too much bloodshed, or simply run. They are not in a position to arrange for a mutiny,” he said.

The regime’s violence is only causing more protests and more defections. The Assad regime may not face a major challenge from within its military yet, but the number of soldiers who have switched sides or want to quit is growing. Don’t count out the possibility of a civil war in Syria.

 

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  • Chezwick_mac

    The Alwaites who comprise the bulk of the security services have no place else to go. Regime-change means a community-wide marginalization. I suspect they'll fight it out to the bitter end.

    • Chezwick_mac

      Alawites that is …

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  • http://www.confessionsofagreenlivingaddict.com Paul Luca

    Want to go with the same issue and land the routine.

  • Amused

    How ironic are the quotes from Syrian soldiers . No problem killing Israelis , but when it comes to their own ? Sorry folks but I'm just plum outta sympathy . Let the chips fall where they may . Lets see if their "arab/muslim " brothers will rescue them .

    • Perdo

      It is always enjoyable to watch someone reap what they have sown… Yet this is overshadowed by the genocidal catastrophe of innocent protesters, again, the world sits and waits TOO LONG!

  • Mike

    Defend from Israel? Israel never attacked Syria, Syria shelled Israel in 1967 and invaded in 1948 and 1973.
    They woul be better off defending Syria from Iran…

  • http://knowbites.com Tracy Alexander

    At this point, those of us who are on the outside looking in have the opportunity to see what's coming sooner or later to our own turf. The Syrian military and enforcement police are not the only ones who face this crucial question of whether or not to fire on or tyrannize the very civilians they are sworn to protect and serve.

    In the US, training of troops and consolidation of policing branches linking states and the feds is well underway. Their target? Under cover of supporting the flow of information to gain better effectiveness, our troops and state officers are being trained to target and take down civilians under the guise of fighting "terrorists" and "militias". To make their agenda easier, the real goal behind attempts to strip civilians of our right to bear arms is obvious. It's a whole lot easier and faster to destroy us if we have no ability to defend ourselves. The evidence is what we are witnessing in too many of these third world nations.

    The toughest part for civilians is discretion, since all wear the same uniforms, making it very difficult to know who the real enemies of the people are. For any law enforcement, military or government authorized person – whether overt or covert – to abuse the authority granted to them BY the people AGAINST the people automatically makes these individuals enemies OF the people.

    There is no excuse for anyone in such a position to plead ignorance or that they are/were "just following orders". Every individual person is responsible for his/her own choices and actions. What is "legal" is not necessarily "executable law", regardless of the nation. Our own Constitution draws the lines very clearly in favor of individual liberties as the highest priority of our government's mandate.

    Beyond any man-made laws, the morality is too obvious to avoid. Ultimately, Nature exacts accountability, for once these individuals have forsaken all others and done what cannot be undone, they will themselves be the next threat to be eliminated by their masters. Only an idiot would think otherwise. The only question each needs to answer is whether "give me liberty or give me death" is the baseline of their own commitment to themselves first and then to those they purport to serve.

    WATCH with open eyes to see these "previews" so that when our own government finishes shedding its sheepskin and the wolves fully emerge into full and undeniable view, we are prepared to act to prevent repetition of these atrocities in our own lands. "Support Our Troops" takes on a whole new meaning now, doesn't it?

  • Deendid

    I think there is no excuse for anyone in such a position to plead ignorance or that they are/were "just following orders". Every individual person is responsible for his/her own choices and actions. What is "legal" with Vehicle signs is not necessarily "executable law", regardless of the nation. Our own Constitution draws the lines very clearly in favor of individual liberties as the highest priority of our government's mandate.