The Syrian regime is arming and training Syrian women to fight for President Bashar al-Assad, putting it out in front of the Pentagon when it comes to sending women to the front lines.
A video posted on Russia Today’s Arabic channel from the central city of Homs shows dozens of women in combat fatigues marching around a training ground carrying Kalashnikovs, performing drills and chanting slogans in support of Assad. “Be prepared Syria. Stand up Assad,” they shout. “With our blood and our soul we protect you Bashar.”[...]The formation of the force comes amid speculation that the regular Syrian army, depleted by defections, desertions and thousands of casualties, is becoming stretched by the effort to suppress Syria’s 22-month-old uprising. According to a report in Britain’s Independent newspaper, the all-female force, named the “Lionesses for National Defence,” is part of an effort to supplement the army with a National Defense Force militia made up of civilian volunteers.[...]The women have already been deployed on the streets, and though their duties seem confined to checkpoint control, the frequency of rebel attacks against government checkpoints effectively puts them on the frontline. A blurry video posted by activists shows female soldiers at a checkpoint in Homs, and activists in the city say they are often to be seen guarding pro-regime neighborhoods, focusing their attention on women wearing headscarves.
“They force women out of cars with deliberate roughness, rip off their veils and scream insults at them,” said Majd Amer, the pseudonym of an activist in Homs interviewed by Skype. “They treat them like they are female terrorists. They call them al-Qaeda … and say, ‘the veil won’t protect you.’”
Assad’s regime repeatedly emphasizes its secular roots in the battle against an increasingly Sunni Islamist rebellion, helping sustain the support of minorities such as the Christians and his own Alawite sect, but also further accentuating the country’s sectarian divide. A woman wearing a headscarf would be assumed to be Sunni, and therefore fall under suspicion as a possible supporter of the revolution.
In 2011, Donald Rumsfeld posted on his web site a bizarre gift he once received from Saddam Hussein: a video that purports to show female Syrian soldiers biting the heads off snakes, and a male comrade stabbing a puppy to death.
Rumsfeld said Hussein gave him the video as a parting memento when Rumsfeld made a secret mission to Baghdad in 1983 as former president Ronald Reagan’s Mideast envoy.