The government of Syria offered to release a number of criminals from the country’s largest prison, on one condition: that they fight on the front lines of the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which has claimed the lives of nearly a half million people since 2011.
Sources told Syria Mubasher that Syrian government agents had told inmates at Adra Prison near Damascus that they would be freed if they agreed to fight for Assad on the front lines of Aleppo and Deir Ez-Zor. (Syria Mubasher is a news site affiliated with the Syrian rebels.)
The offer was made to those convicted of criminal and political offenses, Syria Mubasher reported.
Adra Prison was said to contain 7,000 inmates in 2010, but no doubt its ranks have swelled since the outbreak of war in 2011. Most of the prisoners there are activists, political figures, and human rights defenders, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syria’s army has been hurting for manpower lately. Last summer, Assad said in a televised speech that "There is a lack of human resources... Everything is available [for the army], but there is a shortfall in human capacity," according to Al Jazeera.
The army’s ranks have dwindled due to deaths, defections, and an increase in draft-dodging, Al Jazeera noted.
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