Syrians voting in first local council elections in 7 years
Syrians have begun voting in the country’s first local elections since 2011 in a sign of returning security and normalcy after years of fighting with foreign-backed militants.
Polling stations opened at 7:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) on Sunday and will close at 7:00 p.m. local time (1600 GMT).
More than 40,000 candidates are vying for 18,478 seats across all provinces, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.
“Voting centers opened for citizens to cast their ballots to elect their representatives in the local administrative councils,” the report said.
State television broadcast footage of voters in the cities of Damascus, Tartus and Latakia taking part in the elections.
The local councils operate at the municipal level, and newly elected representatives are expected to have more responsibilities as regards the country’s reconstruction process.
The elections are being held at a time when Syrian army troops and allied fighters control some two-thirds of the country following the recent advances in southern areas and Damascus suburbs.
The Syrian army is now preparing for the liberation of Idlib Province, the last major terrorist bastion in the Arab country.
Syria has the backing of Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement in its bid to rid the strategic province, bordering Turkey, of terrorists.
Idlib hosts several militant groups backed by Turkey and other foreign parties – especially Western states, Israel and their regional allies.