Conscription in Syria is no recent issue, it has, in fact, been going on for a really long time. I heard from older people that during the 60s and 70s it supposedly lasted 5 years. So each young man between age 18 and 42 had to serve in the military for five years and since during this time they did not get paid, families had to help conscripts by giving them some money. In the 80s and 90s it changed to 2 and a half years and those who were only sons were exempted. Then, before the war started it changed again to 1 year and 6 months and it is still so now.
Nevertheless, if a war starts during your military service, the state can, by law, keep all conscripts -if needed – and of course currently they will want to keep every single person available. Moreover, by law, if you have already served in the army and are under the age of 42 you may be called back to serve the country. You have to join the army unless you are studying at university and doing well with your studies. For example if you fail exams three times in the same year, then you have to enlist and the same happens after finishing your academic studies. Actually you cannot escape it.
Currently the worst thing with the military service is that there is no time limit for it, which means that you may serve until you end up being killed: it’s a death sentence with so many different groups fighting against the Syrian army, ranging from ISIS to Alqaida or other Islamic groups. Unfortunately people don’t have many choices. Now the route to Europe is closed and living as a refugee in Turkey or in Lebanon is a disaster because they treat you worse than animals. They humiliate you and force you to live in conditions that no human being would accept: as a refugee you might end up in a tent without food and this explains why so many people decide to stay in Syria trying to avoid the military service. But what does this mean? It means you will have to hide in a village unable to work. So then how would you survive if nobody helped you? And even if someone helped you, you couldn’t leave the village where you are hiding because there are too many check points monitoring the territory and whenever they catch you, they kidnap you and force you to join the army.
Aram, a deserter
*taken from here