YEREVAN — The National Assembly approved on Friday a bill that will exempt the brothers and sons of Armenian soldiers killed in action from compulsory military service.

The exemption will primarily apply to close relatives of victims of the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. At least 3,800 Armenian soldiers and volunteers died during the six-week hostilities stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

“We have younger brothers of servicemen killed during the 44-day Armenian-Azerbaijani war who are subject to military draft because they are not the sole male siblings of their families,” said Hayk Sargsyan, a ruling party lawmaker and the author of the bill. “Many of their parents are in a severe psychological and socioeconomic state and don’t want to send their younger sons to compulsory military service.”

According to Sargsyan’s estimates, only 52 young men will likely qualify for the exemption over the next two years. Sixteen other brothers of fallen soldiers were drafted in the past year. They will be demobilized after the bill is signed into law and comes into effect.

“Given that there are tens of thousands of servicemen in our armed forces … exempting ten to twenty people during every [semiannual] call-up won’t cause any problem,” argued Sargsian.

The bill endorsed by the Armenian Defense Ministry was passed in the first reading. It was backed by 69 members of the 107-seat parliament.

All members of the opposition Hayastan or Pativ Unem blocs, abstained from voting.

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