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LATAKIA, November 23. /TASS/. Six hundred local residents of Syria’s Latakia province have become full-fledged members of Syria’s popular self-defense force after completing training, Latakia governor Ibrahim Khodr al-Salem told reporters.
"Self-defense units provide the strongest local support for the Syrian army," he said.
Recent weeks have generated considerable growth in the number of applicants for the volunteer force, al-Salem said, assessing this due to latest successes of Russian aircraft pounding terrorist positions in Syria since September 30.
"Russia’s direct involvement in the struggle against terror in Syria and the growing pressures on the extremists from the Russian air group in recent days has not only bolstered the Syrian army’s morale but added to the Syrian people’s certainty the extremists’ defeat is imminent," al-Salem said.
Volunteers can engage in government troops’ operations against militants, substitute for career military personnel at road blocks and checkpoints, and patrol liberated land. The newly-trained paramilitaries, al-Salem said, will bear responsibility for maintaining security at government and public offices and people’s private properties, and for preventing likely attempts at terrorist attacks in areas cleared of militants.
Self-defense units began to be formed in Syria after President Bashar Assad issued an instruction to make arrangements enabling grass-roots activists to provide support for the Syrian army in areas recaptured by government forces. The decree was issued after the Russian air group joined the operation against terrorist groups operating in Syria.