In its updated legal guidelines, the Swedish Migration Board has listed military service in Syria as a risk of persecution. Therefore, the starting point in the examination is that people at risk of being enlisted should be granted refugee status in Sweden.
Sweden's decision is based on information received from, among other places, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the Danish Migration Agency, and says that, in principle, everyone who is called up for military service in the Syrian Army is now at risk of being deployed in frontline battles, including those in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria.
"All conscripts now risk being forced to commit or participate in committing war crimes. Risking having to commit or participate in war crimes is a basis for being granted protection in Sweden", Migration Board acting legal director Carl Bexelius said in a statement.
The guidelines imply exceptional cases when having a military position in Syria neither directly nor indirectly entails a risk of participating in war crimes or crimes against humanity. In these cases, the assessment of the person's need for protection must be made not on the basis their service, but on other individual circumstances.
Syrians in Sweden are one of the Nordic country's largest diasporas. As of 2019, there were over 190,000 residents of Sweden born in Syria, and over 50,000 born in Sweden with at least one Syrian-born parent. The numbers of Syrian asylum seekers has soared in recent years amid the ongoing conflict in the war-torn country.
The conscription-based Syrian Arab Armed Forces consist of the Army, Air Force, Navy, the Air Defence Force, and several paramilitary forces, such as the National Defence Force. Since 2011, the Syrian military has taken part in a prolonged internal conflict, its bloodiest in decades, that has been exacerbated by the rise of Islamist terrorists, such as Daesh*.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/“Islamic State”) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and others