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Syrians voted Sunday to elect a new parliament as the Damascus government grapples with international sanctions and a crumbling economy after retaking large parts of the war-torn country.

More than 7,400 polling stations opened across government-held parts of Syria, including for the first time in former opposition strongholds, in the third such polls since the war started nine years ago.

Several lists were allowed to run across the country but without any real opposition, president Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party and its allies are expected to take most of parliament’s 250 seats.

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The president and his wife Asma cast their votes in the capital, the presidency said, posting photos of the smartly dressed couple wearing white face masks to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Volunteers stood outside polling stations carrying the programmes and pictures of their favourite candidates, and tried to woo passersby to come in and vote.

Among the first to cast his ballot in Damascus was 50-year-old Khaled al-Shaleh.

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