Rebels shell Damascus as polling concludes
A mortar shell struck the roof of Damascus University’s Law School Wednesday morning, according to both pro- and anti-Assad sources, as rebels continued to fire on the capital after repeated attacks during Tuesday’s presidential voting. A total of 130 shells struck Damascus on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killing three and injuring more than 15.
Pro-Assad celebrations were staged in and around polling centers in Damascus and other regime-held areas. “It was like a tribute, not a presidential election with three competitors,” a Hasaka-based activist told Syria Direct on Tuesday.
The official voting period concluded at midnight, with President Bashar al- Assad’s office announcing on Facebook that vote counting was underway and results would be announced by the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Meanwhile, the opposition Syrian National Coalition issued a statement Wednesday declaring that the elections represented “the last nail in the coffin of a peaceful solution” and published video of protestors in the Damascus suburb of Daraya protesting Assad’s “blood elections.”
Assad supporters pack the streets of Damascus’s affluent, pro-regime Mezze district on Tuesday night. Photo courtesy of @Isham_AlAssad.
Kurds block voting in Hasaka
Kurdish militias associated with the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) closed more than 20 voting centers Tuesday in the northeastern province al-Hasaka. They also attacked workers in six of those voting centers, destroyed more than 11 voting boxes, and expelled citizens trying to vote, Islam al-Khafaji, a reporter with the independent al-Hasaka News Center, told Syria Direct on Tuesday.
Kurdish forces confiscated voting boxes in several neighborhoods and “secretly placed” them in schools that were located in areas under Kurdish control, according to Kurdish Hawar News.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) prevented people from villages south of al-Hasaka from entering the city and closed all the roads they control, al-Khafaji added.
The city of al-Hasaka is located in the northeast of Syria in one of the farthest provinces from Damascus. The Kurdish parties, Assad regime, and ISIS all claim control over different parts of the region.
Gov’t frees 300 prisoners in Aleppo
The Syrian government will free 300 prisoners from Aleppo Central Prison, Aleppo Attorney General Ibrahim Hilal told official state news agency SANA Tuesday, after “a study of prisoners’ conditions under the directive of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” The announcement, coinciding with Syria’s elections Tuesday, comes after Syrian government forces in May broke a rebel siege on the government-held facility, which at one point was the last remaining regime facility in northern Aleppo.
Rebels had encircled the prison for more than a year, seeking to free an unspecified number of prisoners but also leading to dire humanitarian conditions.
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