Several months ago I wondered why there hadn’t been reports of defectors from the Syrian army, given that conscripts serve only 18-21 month tours of duty, meaning they remain unprofessionalized and with little sense of loyalty to the army. My rough hypothesis at the time was that the short tour of duty in fact discouraged defection, giving recruits little incentive to exit illegally since they would be able to exit legally at a time no great distance in the future. But obviously defection remained a possibility, and even more, an important signal about the state of affairs.
Now it is reported that as many as 10,000 Syrian soldiers have defected. The report also says that in the last three call-ups, around half of the conscripts have not reported. Unfortunately it doesn’t disentangle those numbers, telling us if those refusees are counted among the 10,000 defectees or not.
A quick internet search shows the Syrian Army to be estimated at between 220,000 and 316,000 in size (an annoying large spread). Either way, 10,000 is a relatively small percentage, but if it is composed mostly of actual defectors, who have taken their (minimal) training and weaponry, that still makes for a potentially sizable guerrilla force to combat (even assuming that not all have left to take up arms against the state, but simply to avoid taking up arms against civilians). If the bulk of those numbers is made up of those who have refused to report, then that number will be much smaller, but perhaps still significant.