Iraqi candidates wrapped up their campaigns Friday as voters living overseas began casting ballots in critical parliamentary elections.

Millions of Iraqi voters across 14 countries began casting their ballots Friday.  Most of them live in Syria and Jordan.

The nationwide poll will take place Sunday, when voters will elect the 325-seat legislature.

The vote is only the second parliamentary election in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003.  It is widely seen as a test of Iraq's ability to maintain security and conduct a smooth transition of power.

On Thursday, violence marred early voting in Baghdad.  Authorities say separate explosions near polling stations killed 15 people, including seven soldiers.  Senior officials say Iraqi security forces thwarted a number of other potential attacks near polling stations Thursday.

Nearly a million Iraqis were eligible to cast early voting -- including soldiers, police, medical staff, patients and prisoners.  

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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