A soldier loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad smokes while resting on a tank in Adra al-Omalia, after taking control of the area from rebel fighters September 25, 2014. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
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Pro-regime Syrians back army but dodge draftYoung Syrian men in regime-controlled areas are using any means necessary, including violent demonstrations, to avoid military conscription – even if they support the government.Sunnis make up about 80 percent of Syria's population, while Alawites constitute roughly 10 percent.Syrian men are required to serve in the military for two-years, which can be extended for much longer.Hit by defections and desertions, Syria's 300,000-strong military has halved in size since 2011, according to Aram Nerguizian, a military affairs expert from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. According to George, deserters are also caught when they want to process a government formality, such as getting married.In the summer of 2014, Druze religious leaders stopped a military patrol from arresting another young deserter.
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