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June 03, 2014 AT 12:09 PM
Against a backdrop of civil war, tens of thousands of Syrians voted in government-controlled cities and towns Tuesday to give President Bashar Assad a new seven-year mandate, with some even marking the ballots with their own blood. The carefully choreographed election was ignored and even mocked in opposition-held areas of Syria where fighting persisted, with some rebels derisively dropping their shoes in a phony ballot box in a show of disgust. Western leaders also have called it a sham. A victory for Assad is likely to bolster his base of support at home and provide further evidence that he has no intention of relinquishing power, making a protracted conflict the likely outcome in fighting that has already lasted three years.