Voting hours for the Syrian parliamentary elections Wednesday were extended for an additional five hours because of such a high voter turnout. A religious leader there lauded the number of voters participating, saying that it was an indication to voters’ apparent opposition to the “cruelty, terrorism and destruction” experienced in Syria’s civil war.
Large parts of the country that are controlled by insurgent groups did not participate in the voting on Wednesday. Despite a fragile partial cease-fire, government and Russian warplanes have continued to hit areas controlled by nationalists and Islamist rebels, as well as territory held by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. An American-led coalition is also bombing areas held by the group.
Syria’s two biggest cities Damascus and Aleppo were seen as safe havens from the violence and gradually saw a large influx of IDPs [internally displaced persons] fleeing from the zones of conflict.
Mark Toner, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson, said this week that “to hold parliamentary elections now given the current circumstances, given the current conditions in the country, we believe is at best premature and not representative of the Syrian people.”
A French Foreign Ministry spokesman called the elections a “sham,” while his German counterpart said that country “will not accept the results,” Reuters reported.