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News Link • Syria

Syria: Fighting a Civil War Through the Ballot Box

•, By Patrick Cockburn

The well-guarded embassy is difficult to reach at the best of times, and it does not take many of the 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon to try to enter it at the same time to create traffic jams and for crowds to get out of control.

Chanting "With our souls, with our blood we will sacrifice for you Bashar" and "Long live Syria", the crowds were intending to vote early in the 3 June election. Some will be genuine supporters of Mr Assad, who is seeking a third seven-year term, while others believe that if they do not vote they may have difficulty renewing their passports or face other bureaucratic problems.

"I came to vote for President Bashar Assad because we love him and he is a good man," said Abraham Dekermenjian, a Syrian of Armenian descent from the war-devastated city of Aleppo.

Wahid Ibrahim al-Beik, 30, who works as a minibus driver in Lebanon, had a Syrian flag tied around his neck and a headband that read: "Syria is protected by God."

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