Balaus: No military service for ‘sons of Suwayda’





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The Sheikhs of Dignity issued a strongly worded Sunday excusing Druze young men from mandatory service in the Syrian army and forbidding the arrest of those who have fled from active duty, reported the Suwayada LCC Monday, which posted a copy of the statement. “We announce that from today on, neither recruitment nor mandatory service in the army or security services is incumbent upon the sons of Suwayda,” reads the first item in the announcement. Sheikh Waheed al-Balaus, head of the Sheikhs of Dignity, delivered the address at his home in Suwayda, which was then transcribed and distributed across social media pages, Noura al-Basha, a Druze member of the grassroots Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union in Suwayda, told Syria Direct Monday. The Sheikhs of Dignity movement, which says its goal is to protect Suwayda from both regime excesses and potential rebel attacks, has taken an increasingly oppositional stance towards the former as Daraa rebels have approached the province over the past month. The Sheikhs of Dignity prevented a column of regime tanks from leaving Suwayda earlier in June, claiming that they needed the weaponry for self-defense, and most recently sheltered a group of young men fleeing military service on Saturday.