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Retruning Officers and Conscripts: We Decided to Correct Our Mistake and Return to Military Institution

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A number of officers who had run away and later went back on the right path highlighted the scale of falsification of facts facing Syria and the extent of criminality and destruction the Syrian Arab Army has been subjected to by the armed terrorist groups.In an interview with the Syrian TV on Wednesday evening, the returning officers said they decided to correct their mistake and go back to the lap of the homeland and the military institution.“Following and getting influenced with what has been promoted about the events in Syria by the foreign news channels, which I later realized was untrue, was what made me take the decision to flee the service,” Lt. Col. Khalid Abdul-Rahman al-Zamil told the Syrian TV.
He said after he ran away he called an officer in Turkey who coordinated the process of having al-Zamel take charge of a military wing formed by armed groups.“In the beginning I refused the whole issue because I worked in the technical and not the combat field,” he added, noting that he later agreed because “they said they wanted me to be a cover for their activities and an official in the name only to grant them a certain legitimacy.”Al-Zamel spoke of how the gunmen would refuse his orders to drop their weapons when asked to and how they used “an amount of money [he] received” for buying weapons instead of offering it as aid for some people affected by the events.“This and such other things made me take the decision to withdraw and not deal with those groups which has but one project, that is of killing,” the returning Lieutenant Colonel said.He stressed that he and many others like him had been mislead, being far from combat work, by “non-existing facts promoted by screens”, but now by looking at the reality “I realize what is actually going on.
”For his part, 1st Lt. Mahmoyd Ali Moussa narrated how he had received many threats by fellow officers to take the decision to flee the country along with them.“I refused and then they threatened to harm my family whom I had to move to another place,” he added.After repeated threats of the kind with people intercepting him on the road, Moussa said he “felt weak and afraid for my family and agreed.”“What is currently happening in Syria is killing, destruction and sabotage committed by some armed terrorist groups in service of the West’s interests and not those of Syria,” he told the Syrian TV.Moussa added that when he later considered about what happened with him and how he did not inform the authorities and thought only of his family “I knew my mistake and decided to inform the authorities and put myself at the disposal of the General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces.”The threats which Moussa was subjected to were also received by 1st Lt. Mulhim Mahmoud al-Shantout who talked in the interview how “they will reach my family if I dared to leave the village, where I was on leave, and go back to work.”“I know I had to inform the authorities, but fear and overthinking made me get to this point,” he noted, stressing that, being already on the ground as a law enforcement forces member,
“I was completely convinced with what he was seeing, away from what was being broadcast by the tendentious channels.“The meeting with them took two hours during which all they talked about was looting and stealing and all that which strips you of morals and dignity,” he told the Syrian TV, “therefore, I decided to go back quickly so that I don’t get my hands stained with blood.”“It feels pride not fear when returning home, because when you go back to your mother or father you know you won’t be harmed in any way,” said al-Shantout.In turn, the conscript Sgt. Alaa-Eddin Qarmouz said he was influenced in making the decision to leave the service by the incidents of abduction and martyrdom faced by his colleagues due to terrorists attacks.He narrated how he went, along with the person who encouraged him to leave the service, to the place of a group of gunmen where he stayed and with whom he participated in some operations.Qarmouz added that he also joined another group in his village under the pretext of protecting the civilian locals, but “I later found out that this was not their goal because they started to attack the civilians and the army checkpoints , break into houses and steal cars.”“They took me in to give their group a military character and to say that it includes defected soldiers and officers,” he said, noting that it was his father who convinced him to hand himself over.
Besides the threats which targeted the families of some of the runaways, those were also forced to consent to join the armed groups after being abducted.Conscript Mohammad Masalkhi narrated how, while he was his way to his home on leave, “the armed gangs intercepted the vehicle and when they knew I was a conscript they forced me out of the vehicle, beat me and put me inside the box of a car of them for 4 hours.”He added that he was tortured and interrogated, along with other kidnapped people, and was asked by the gunmen’s leader to join them, to which he agreed.“ After getting out of the detention room, I was offered cigarettes, clothes and money to send to my family,” Masalkhi continued as saying.He cited the type of operations he participated in as a driver which included kidnapping and torturing military members, setting up barriers and stealing and looting.“I’m not used to stealing…I was extremely moved by what was happening to my colleagues among the kidnapped who would have their fingernails and teeth plucked out,” he added.“Therefore, I started to watch the nearby battalion to run away to it when they are asleep, which I finally did,” said the returning conscript.

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November 2012
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