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Syrians stream to embassies to vote in controversial poll

Syrian nationals living in Lebanon gesture as they arrive outside the Syrian Embassy in Yarze east of Beirut on May 28, 2014, before voting in the presidential electionsThousands of Syrians, thronging streets around their embassy in Beirut, on Wednesday streamed to the polls for Syria’s controversial presidential poll being staged as civil war rages in the country. For the early vote by expats, the Yarzeh district of east Beirut was festooned with Syrian flags and portraits of President Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to cruise to victory in the June 3 election. With security tight for the vote, which the official media back home hailed as a moral triumph for the regime, the yellow flags of Lebanon’s Shiite militant movement Hezbollah, a staunch ally of Assad’s forces in their brutal three-year showdown with rebels, were also prominent. Of the estimated three million Syrians living abroad, including both refugees and peacetime residents, only around 200,000 were entitled to vote on Wednesday, in 38 embassies abroad, a foreign ministry source said in Damascus.

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