Syria’s Alawites Paying Big Price

The poster made of the Syrian soldiers slain in the internal conflict, put up by their families to commemorate their fallen sons who have died in action, are plastered all over the walls throughout Tartous a coastal province.

The impromptu mural of death illustrates the price that President Bashar al-Assad supporters are paying to defend him as the ruler.

For supporters of the government, Assad have become synonymous with the country itself and particularly with those in Tartous a scenic port on the Mediterranean that is Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam that is Assad’s family’s faith.

For the Alawite minority in Syria, the only way out of this conflict is supporting the president, despite some rumblings of dissent.

The rebels often target indiscriminately Alawites because they have been seen as the strongest pillar of the rule by Assad and because extremists amongst the rebels believe they are heretics.

More soldiers have died from Tartous than from any other area of Syria in fighting to stop the armed rebellion looking to topple the president.

One Alawite said this is the price that had to be paid for Syria because if the sovereignty of the country is not regained, then not only have I lost my son in battle but my home as well.

It is not likely the sons from Tartous will stop being needed, as the government is desperate for more soldiers as the conflict trudges along.

Nearly 4,000 soldiers originally from Tartous have died in fighting, according to one official from Syria, who spoke anonymously since he is not authorized to talk to the media.

The 4,000 death toll represents close to 10% of the estimated 40,400 soldiers already killed.

The Alawites form close to 13% of the population of Syria, which was 23 million prior to the start of the war.

The Alawites are grouped mostly in Homs a city in central Syria and in different provinces along the coast.

Many others die as well; Syria’s army is representative of the sectarian makeup of the entire country. It is mostly Sunni Muslim, but the troops that are Alawite are the most trusted by the country’s leadership.

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