(Zaman Al Wasl)- The 5th Corps- Storm troopers announced the launched of the Baath Legion “which includes thousands of fighters” on Tuesday evening. The Corps did not announce the Legion’s exact location or given an accurate number of members. From the images circulated in the pro-regime media, it appears that only a few dozen people gave their pledges.
Hilal Hilal, the Deputy Regional Secretary, and Amar Saati, a member in the regional command, participated alongside the Baathist fighters in reciting the oath.
Hilal is considered one of the main people who called for forming a Baathist brigade to fight alongside the regular army. He initiated forming the force in Aleppo city when he was the Secretary of the Baath Party branch in Aleppo. Similar processes followed in Baath Party branches across the remaining Syrian provinces.
Amar Saati, the head of the Syrian National Student Union and a member of the regional command, adopted the idea and advocated for it across Syrian universities. He launched what are known as the Baath Brigades which include university students. He opened special offices for the brigades in the union.
It is not clear at this time how the brigades became the Baath Legion, and how it was included under the 5th Corps. It is also not clear if the Baath Legion is limited to the Baath Brigades from the universities or includes brigades subordinate to the Baath party branches in the provinces. The images circulated by the regime media reveal that some of the legion members are older men dispelling the idea that the forces are formed of the university forces.
Regime media outlets spoke about members of the Legion being killed in battles in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Qalamoun more than once. The news is unusual given the Legion was supposedly launched on February 14, 2017.
Russia backed the idea of forming the 5th Corps, but the Corps faced many stumbling blocks including young men not enlisting despite the many attractions of joining the Corps. Those who join will supposedly receive a complete amnesty from reserve service. Public employees who enlist will continue to receive their salaries from their jobs in addition to the relatively high salary paid to Legion members among other benefits.
-Failure, Suspicion, and Resentment-
Speaking to Zaman al-Wasl, a source close to the 5th Corps explained that the 5th Corps’ complete failure is represented by its inability to recruit more than a thousand members until now. The Corps was expected to include between 30,000-35,000. The source attributed this failure to the Corps lack of credibility regarding many of the promises its administration made.
The Syrian National Student Union presented many benefits to lure Syrian university students to join the Baath Brigades including an administrative promotion in their university study, giving them exceptional annual exam rounds, and the opportunity to carry arms in the university and its campus.
Regime supporters were resentful of the Student Union for trying to push young men to join the Baath Brigade. They consider that this will impact negatively on their education, their futures and puts their lives at risk.
Pro-regime media outlets were also critical of the 5th Corps as it does not give members many of the privileges it advertised including medical care and the amnesty from reserve service.