Syria to Hold Elections as Chemical Gas Allegations Surface
(NEW YORK) -- Syria will hold presidential elections on June 3 despite the raging civil war that is believed to have killed at least 150,000 people. Many expect President Bashar al-Assad, whose term ends on July 17, to announce his bid for another seven years in office. Assad is expected to win another term, largely because voting won’t happen in areas controlled by opposition forces.
Both the U.S. and the United Nations called the scheduled election a sham.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday, “Calling for a de-facto referendum rings especially hollow now as the regime continues to massacre the very electorate it purports to represent.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also concerned that another Assad regime would effectively end any chance of a diplomatic settlement to the three-year conflict.
In other developments, the Obama administration says it's looking into reports on the use of chlorine gas in opposition strongholds in Syria where dozens of people are allegedly seeking treatment for chemical poisoning.
"We are still establishing what happened and who is responsible. We're examining allegations that the regime is responsible," White House press secretary Jay Carney added.
The report comes as Syria is in the process of having all its chemical agents destroyed by the end of June as dictated in last fall's U,N. resolution that Damascus agreed to uphold.
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