Thousands of Syrians lined up outside polling stations in parts of their war-torn country to cast votes on Wednesday, slotxo xo in elections dismissed as a sham and guaranteed to give longtime President Bashar Assad a fourth seven-year term.
The vote's legitimacy was challenged by throngs of Syrians living outside of government-controlled areas, who rallied to denounce what they called a "farcical play" that ignores the country's reality.
Torn by a decade-old conflict, Syria is divided into areas controlled by the government, rebel fighters and foreign troops, all competing for influence and resources.
Half of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million has been displaced - mostly living outside of government-controlled areas where they won vote. Over 5 million were driven out and live in neighboring countries where the vote is not held. The fighting has left nearly half a million dead and hundreds of thousands detained or missing.
Western countries also dismissed the election as illegitimate, saying it violates U.N. resolutions adopted to resolve the crisis through negotiations between the government and opposition groups, and the drafting of a new charter.
“The Assad regime's so-called presidential election is neither free nor fair,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a Twitter post Wednesday. "The U.S. joins France, Germany, Italy, and the UK in calling for the rejection of the regime's attempts to regain legitimacy without respecting the Syrian people 'human rights and freedoms."