set for June 3
Syria called a presidential election for June 3, aiming to give President Bashar al-Assad a veneer of electoral legitimacy in the midst of a civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people and driven a third of the population from their homes.
The opposition and the U.S. denounced the vote as a farce, and a U.N. spokesman said it will "hamper the prospects for a political solution." But Assad's government seems determined to hold the election as a way of exploiting recent military gains.
The announcement Monday by Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham raises questions about how the government intends to hold any kind of credible vote within the deeply divided country, where large swaths of territory lie outside government control and hundreds of thousands of people live in rebel-held or contested areas or under blockade by pro-government forces. - AP
New missing total
Parents of girls abducted April 14 by Islamist militants were searching for their daughters in a remote forest, they told the state governor Monday, adding that 234 were still missing, a much higher figure than authorities said had been kidnapped. Official figures put the number of abducted girls at 129, and Saturday, the Borno governor, Kassim Shettima, said 77 were still unaccounted for.
Al-Qaeda base is hit