Syria’s Assad sets out plans for new 7-year presidential term

Syria’s Assad sets out plans for new 7-year presidential term

PanARMENIAN.Net - President Bashar al-Assad will be sworn in and set out his plans for a new seven-year term on Wednesday, July 16 state media reported, after his victory in an election that affirmed his grip on power more than three years into Syria's civil war, Reuters reported.

Dismissed as a sham by Assad's opponents, the vote was held in June in areas of central and northern Syria that remain under state control. Large areas of Syria have fallen to an insurgency dominated by Islamists, including a powerful al Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State that has also seized swathes of Iraq.

Assad is due to give a speech for the occasion that will set out his policy for the coming seven years, the Syrian presidency said in a statement on its official Facebook page.

Assad has shored up his control over a strategic corridor of territory stretching north from Damascus, taking back major cities including Homs. Backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, his forces are now squeezing rebels in Aleppo.

But to the east and northeast, large parts of the country are in insurgents' hands. The militant Islamic State has expanded its control in recent weeks, defeating other Islamist factions with new weaponry brought in from Iraq.

The United States, which has repeatedly said he has lost legitimacy, had described the election as meaningless.

Official returns showed Assad winning 88.7 percent of the vote. It was the first contested presidential election in Syria. Previous votes had been referendums to approve the appointment of Bashar and his father, Hafez al-Assad, who died in 2000.

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