Polls open in Syria
People in Syria have begun voting in the country’s presidential election amid heightened security in the capital, Damascus, and other cities.
Polling stations opened at 7:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Tuesday in the government-controlled parts of Syria.
“We hope for security and stability,” said Hussam al-Din alAws, a teacher who was the first person to vote at a voting office at a Damascus secondary school.
The stations are scheduled to close after 12 hours, but officials have said voting could be extended for five hours if need be.
More than 15 million people, both inside and outside Syria, are eligible to participate in the vote and 9,600 polling stations have been set up around the country.
On May 28, Syrian citizens living abroad went to the polls at the Syrian embassies in a number of countries, including Iran, Russia, Yemen, China, Lebanon, Malaysia, Venezuela, Jordan, Sudan, Oman, the Czech Republic, Belarus and India.
The voter turnout was reportedly more than 95 percent.
President Bashar al-Assad is seeking a third term in office. He faces Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar, a lawmaker from Aleppo, as well as Hassan Abdallah al-Nuri, a legislator from Damascus, in the presidential race.
The Syrian government has also dismissed Western and opposition accusations regarding the presidential election, saying that it is planning to hold a free and transparent vote.
The Syrian opposition has threatened that they will try to disrupt the vote.