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

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs