News / Middle East

    Syrian Opposition Says No Voting in Rebel-Controlled Areas

    A man casts his vote during the presidential election in Damascus, Syria, June 3, 2014.
    A man casts his vote during the presidential election in Damascus, Syria, June 3, 2014.
    Edward Yeranian
    Syrians in parts of the country under government control are voting Tuesday in an election expected to give President Bashar al Assad a third seven-year term.  Opposition leaders have denounced the vote, calling it a “farce”, and no voting will take place in those regions of the country under rebel control.

    Syrian state TV continued to urge voters to turn out for Tuesday's election, showing video of long lines in front of some polling stations and interviewing voters waiting to cast their ballots.

    President Bashar al Assad, whose family has controlled Syria since his father came to power in a bloodless coup in 1970, is facing two rival candidates for the first time in modern history.  Both of his adversaries were chosen by the country's pro-government parliament and stand little chance of winning.

    The embattled president, who has been trying to put down a three-year old uprising against his rule in which 150,000 people have died, was shown voting early at a Damascus polling station with his wife Asma.  The smiling Assad chatted briefly with election officials.

    Former Minister of Administrative Reform Hassan al Nouri, one of two candidates facing Assad, said he was surprised by the “heavy turnout,” and hinted the election might be extended until Wednesday.  He stressed he is competing with Assad in a friendly way.

    He insiste he was not an enemy of either candidate, but a friend and that friends did not mean to compete.  He called the election an honest contest for the sake of the country.

    Speaking for the government, Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem said the presidential election was the start of a return to normalcy in Syria.

    He said the election marked the start of a political solution to the Syrian crisis.  He insisted only the Syrian people had the right to confer legitimacy and that this day spelled the return of security and stability, on the path to rebuilding and holding reconciliation.

    But opposition leader Ahmed Jarba warned of widespread bloodshed during the election and urged Syrians not to go out and vote.

    He claimed the Syrian government and its allies intended to resort to violence by attacking various targets on election day, including polling stations, and he urged Syrians not fall victim to such a game, but to remain home and not go out [and vote].

    But both the government and the opposition appeared to resort to violence.  Amateur video showed government warplanes dropping barrel bombs over rebel-held regions of Damascus and Aleppo, while witnesses say rebels fired rockets at government-held areas, causing numerous casualties.

    You May Like

    Video US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora