Syrians wave their national flag and hold picture of re-elected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after he was announced as the winner of the country's presidential elections on June 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID
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For all the serious flaws in Syria's election, it underscored the considerable support that President Bashar Assad still enjoys from the population, including many in the majority Sunni Muslim community.Syria's conflict is often portrayed through one of its many prisms -- that of a sectarian struggle, in which overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels seek to topple Assad, who belongs to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Without Sunni support, however, Assad's rule would have collapsed long ago amid a civil war that activists say has killed more than 160,000, displaced at least a third of Syria's prewar population of 23 million, and destroyed wide swaths of the country.That support was on display as Syrians voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to give Assad another seven-year term. It is difficult to ascertain the popularity or discontent with Assad inside Syria.Those fighting to oust Assad are called "terrorists" by the government, which presents all of them as hard-core jihadists.For the lawyer Saleh, fears of those ultraconservative fighters contribute, in part, to her support for Assad.It's enough," said Moataz, a 40-year-old technician who worked in an upscale Damascus hotel.Asked if he believed any other candidate or the opposition could lead the country, he replied that only Assad had acted decisively.
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