BEIRUT (Reuters) – After fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for six years, rebel soldier Abu Mohammed laid down his arms as part of a peace deal in his home town of Moadamiya last year.
But he has now fled Syria into Turkey. His reason: the Syrian army told him to report for duty and he feared being sent to his death fighting his former allies or Islamic State.
War - Abu - Mohammed - Phone - Interview
“We’re tired of war and bloodshed, we’ve had as much as we can take,” Abu Mohammed said in a phone interview from Turkey.
The 27-year-old, who declined to give his full name, said he had signed onto the peace deal in Moadamiya, a Damascus suburb that was a rebel stronghold until last year.
Moadamiya - Agreement - Frontline - Duty - Town
He said he had been told the Moadamiya agreement would exempt him from frontline duty. “We stayed in the town on that basis.”
But this spring, he heard that men from Moadamiya had been conscripted not to serve locally but to fight for the government against rebel soldiers.
People - Army - Hours - Service
“People began to get worried,” he said, adding that he left after the army gave him 48 hours to report for military service.
Reuters could not independently verify the account of other soldiers from Moadamiya being taken to fight on front lines, but it echoed that of a second former rebel from Moadamiya.
Defectors - Front - Lines - Breach - Agreements
Declining to be named, he said defectors were being sent to the front lines in breach of agreements communicated to them verbally by what is officially termed a “reconciliation committee”, consisting of officials and local representatives of a defeated area.
The government minister responsible for local agreements, Ali Haidar, denied the state had broken any commitments in Moadamiya, saying accusations it had were being promoted by foreign states and rebels “annoyed” by the agreements.
Rebels - Army - Hundreds
He said many former rebels had joined the army, and hundreds had been...
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