Syrian peace talks resumed in Geneva on Wednesday as residents living in government-held areas went to the polls in parliamentary elections dismissed by the opposition and western backers as a sham.
State media showed a smiling Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, voting near the presidential palace in Damascus. Crowds were filmed pouring into polling stations at the Hejaz railway station in the centre of the capital and close to the border with Lebanon to achieve what one TV correspondent called “constitutional stability”.
The polls are due to remain open until 7pm but are unlikely to produce any surprises in the 250-seat assembly or challenge the dominance of the Ba’ath party or loyal independents.
People in Aleppo chanted “Allah, Syria, Bashar – and that’s all we need” during a live broadcast from government-held parts of the city. Initial turnout was described by one independent journalist as “still sluggish” an hour after voting began.