Syrian army eroded by defections, battle deaths

FILE - In this May 12, 2012 file photo, Syrian army soldiers hold the Syrian revolution flags as they stand in front their armored personnel carrier shortly after they defected and joined the rebels at Khaldiyeh neighborhood, in Homs province, central Syria. A top Syrian cleric's appeal for men to join the army raises the question of whether President Bashar Assad is running out of soldiers and prompts a pro-government newspaper to declare the military can battle insurgents for years to come. The civil war has eroded one of the Arab world's biggest armies, and pro-Assad militiamen are increasingly filling in for troops. (AP Photo/Fadi Zaidan, File)BEIRUT (AP) — A top Syrian cleric's appeal to young men to join the army raised the question of whether President Bashar Assad is running out of soldiers, prompting a pro-government newspaper to reassure readers Tuesday that the military can keep fighting insurgents for years to come.


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