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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid