Despite suffering huge losses, the Syrian army has managed to survive longer than almost anyone thought possible at the beginning of Syria’s civil war.
According to a recent estimate by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based monitoring group, 28,800 Syrian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the conflict 2 1/2 years ago. This represents a massive hemorrhage of manpower for an army that was estimated to have a strength of 220,000 at the beginning of the war.
The army has also suffered desertions and from the beginning could rely only on a handful of crack units loyal to the government. Most of the army consists of Sunni Arab recruits, many of whom were judged unreliable to fight an insurgency that has its roots mainly in that religious community.