Last Updated: Friday, 08 December 2017, 11:58 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Syria

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Syria, 2001, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.

  • Population:
    – total: 15,725,000
    – under-18s: 7,739,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 316,000
    – reserves: 396,000
    – paramilitary: 108,000
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 191857
  • Voluntary recruitment age: unknown
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: unknown
  • CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API
  • It is not known if there are any under-18s in government armed forces due to lack of information on the minimum age for voluntary recruitment.


Syria is not engaged in any armed conflict, though Syrian armed forces are deployed in relation to Israel's military occupation of the Golan Heights. Syrian armed forces also intervened in the Lebanese civil war in 1976 and still maintain 30,000 troops inside Lebanon.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 40 of the Constitution states, "All citizens have an obligation to carry out their sacred duty to defend the security of the homeland and to respect its Constitution and the socialist union system. Military service is compulsory and is regulated by the law." Article 100 states "The President of the Republic can declare war and general mobilization and conclude peace following the approval by the People's Assembly."1858

The vast majority of the armed forces are raised through conscription, which has been compulsory and universal for males (only the small Jewish community is exempted) since 1946 and was officially reaffirmed by the Service of the Flag Law in 1953.1859 The legal basis for conscription is the 1953 National Service Act.1860 The minimum age for conscription is 19 years.1861

The length of military service is 30 months. Reserve duty is obligatory up to the age of 45.1862 Women are not required to serve, although some volunteer, playing more a public relations than military role. Males must register for the draft at 18. Each year around 125,000 reach the age of 19 which is when the 30-month conscription period begins.1863 Students are not called up until they have finished their studies and those going abroad can reportedly pay a financial contribution instead of serving the term. Some exemptions are possible for only sons or for health reasons.

It is not clear whether Syria's armed forces accept volunteers below 18 years. After completion of his period of conscription (i.e. over 18), a man could volunteer for an additional five years in the regular service or, if he chose not to enlist, he would serve as a reservist for eighteen years. Further voluntary re-enlistment is then possible until a compulsory retirement age.1864

Military Training and Military Schools

In 1987 there were three military schools training commissioned officers for the services: the Military Academy, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy. Men from 18 to 23 could apply for admission to the school of their choice. 1865

1857 Brett and McCallin op. cit.


1859 Thomas Collelo ed., Syria A Country Study Federal Research Division Library of Congress, 1987

1860 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

1861 Goodwin-Gill and Cohn, op. cit.

1862 IISS, p.154.

1863 Collelo.

1864 Ibid.

1865 Ibid.

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