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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria announced Monday that presidential elections will be held June 3, setting the stage for President Bashar Assad to win a new, seven-year term in the midst of a civil war that has torn apart the country and makes it impossible for millions to vote. The opposition dismissed the election as a farce.
Syria said Monday it will hold a presidential election expected to return President Bashar al-Assad to office on June 3, despite a civil war that has killed tens of thousands. Underlining the ongoing violence in the country, mortar fire hit near the parliament building shortly before the election date was announced, killing two people. Syria's first presidential election -- after constitutional amendments did away with the old referendum system -- will be held amid violence that has killed 150,000 people since March 2011, according to one monitoring group. He urged Syrians "to give voice to their will through the ballot box and participate in the democratic process by electing whoever they think is most able to lead Syria to victory."