The Syrian flag breaing the portrait of a dead soldier, who died during the Syrian conflict, flutters at the Martyr's cemetery in the city of Tartus northwest of Damascus on May 18, 2014.AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID
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Syria's presidential election is just a fortnight away and Damascenes fear rebels will mark it with fierce mortar bombardment on the capital, or even a devastating tunnel bomb similar to attacks in northern Syria.To retaliate, rebels use mortars and car bombs to hit the center of the capital, an area a few miles wide that is firmly in government hands. Earlier this month, 27 mortar and rocket attacks hit on a single day and Damascenes fear rebels will rain hell on the capital on election day to protest the event.This month, the city streets are also paralyzed with marches in support of Assad, adding to gridlock that developed over the past two years as the government shut down major avenues and placed armed men at checkpoints on most streets.Even Damascenes who support the government express doubt about the prospects for a genuine election in wartime, although they say the vote is needed to move beyond the conflict.Pockets of normalcy remain in Damascus, despite three years of fighting that has killed 160,000 people, driven nearly a third of Syrians from their homes and cut the capital off from its war zone suburbs.
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