New Syrian army recruits eat their Iftar (breaking fast) meals at a military training camp in Damascus, Syria June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
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Many young Syrian men are deserting like Nasser or dodging the draft altogether to avoid the experiences that have left conscripts physically and mentally scarred and with an uncertain future.Five years of fighting between various warring sides including the government, rebel groups and Daesh (ISIS) has taken its toll on the army which numbered around 300,000 personnel prewar, according to military experts.The Syrian army does not release such statistics.The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that at least 80,000 members of the Syrian army have been killed in a conflict that has claimed more than 250,000 lives. Syrian men are called up to the army aged 18 .There are more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, roughly a quarter of its population.Draft-age men resident abroad for four years can pay a fee of $8,000 to avoid service completely, according to a 2014 presidential decree.Hadid, Jawad and Nasser join an exodus of nearly 5 million Syrians who have fled the war, which is in its sixth year.
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