Abbas says Syrian election will end war while Damascus launches air strikes
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas believes that the June elections in Syria, considered a "farce" by many parties, will help to end the country's civil war, according to Agence France Presse Wednesday.
Syria's President Bashar Al Assad posted a quote from Abbas on his Facebook reading, "Your election to the presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic guarantees Syria's unity and sovereignty, and starts of a countdown to the end of Syria's crisis and its war against terrorism."
The quote is considered the "strongest expression of support yet" from President Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since the beginning of the conflict.
Assad's election win has been widely contested and criticized by the Syrian opposition as well as the international community, including the UN, who have described the election as a "farce." Voting was only held in regime-controlled areas, and many opposition figures were barred from running based on new policy rules passed by Damascus.
While Abbas allegedly lauded Assad's win Wednesday, government forces pounded eastern Syria in an area considered a jihadist stronghold, according to the Associated Press.
Damascus launched seven strikes on the city of Raqqa, killing at least 12 people, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Activists on the ground told the Observatory that it is likely that the death toll will increase as many others have been severely wounded from the strikes.
The strikes targeted the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria's (ISIS) headquarters in Raqqa, where the jihadist group has had an established presence since March 2013.
Strikes were also reported in the Deir Al Zor province near the Iraqi border, said the Observatory. It is not yet clear, however, if the strikes resulted in any casualties.
At least 162,000 people have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict over three years ago.