BEIRUT

Middle East

Syrian rebels 'won't attack' poll centers

A man casts his ballot in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

DAMASCUS: A number of armed groups fighting against the Syrian government have said they will not target poll centers during the country's controversial presidential election, according to a statement released Tuesday.

Issued on social media by the Islamic Front, the Army of Mujahedeen, Ahrar es-Sham and es-Sham Soldiers' Islamic Union, the statement said that polling stations would not be the target of military operations in order to keep civilians away from conflict.

It said that the presidential election would not be legitimate in an atmosphere where forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed, wounded and kidnapped many Syrian people, and accused the regime of forcing people to take part in "nonsense elections" to create a false level of participation.

Ziad Hassan, a political committee member of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), described the election as a "mockery," saying it was unreflective of the Syrian people's will.

"We as the SNC do not recognize the election; it is not legitimate. Bashar Assad killed more than 200,000 people in a three-year civil war, made millions of people leave their homes behind and take refuge in neighboring countries. So this election is not even close to being legitimate," he added.

Opposition groups in the country have described the poll as a "bloody election" as questions of legitimacy continue to overshadow the contest.

According to the Syrian Human Rights Network, 40 percent of Syrians live outside of regime-controlled areas, so do not have a chance to vote.

The Syrian Interior Ministry announced that 15 million citizens are eligible to vote in the election in Syria. The Syrian Human Rights Network has claimed, however, that out of this total, 6.5 million people have left their homes and 3.5 million have fled to other countries, meaning that over half of the electorate would not vote in the election.

It is also claimed that public servants and college students were instructed to go to ballot box by the Assad regime.

More than 100,000 people have been killed during the ongoing three-year conflict in Syria, which has also internally displaced more than 6.5 million people, according to the U.N. Over two million Syrians are now registered as refugees in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

 

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Summary

It said that the presidential election would not be legitimate in an atmosphere where forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed, wounded and kidnapped many Syrian people, and accused the regime of forcing people to take part in "nonsense elections" to create a false level of participation.

The Syrian Interior Ministry announced that 15 million citizens are eligible to vote in the election in Syria. The Syrian Human Rights Network has claimed, however, that out of this total, 6.5 million people have left their homes and 3.5 million have fled to other countries, meaning that over half of the electorate would not vote in the election.


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