Syrians hold rallies in Damascus to support President Assad

File photo of a Syrian demonstration in support of President Bashar al-Assad in the capital Damascus

Syrians have once again taken to the streets in the capital Damascus to express support for the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Press TV reports.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital on Thursday to voice their support for the government in face of persisting Western pressures against Damascus.

Pro-government demonstrations have also been reported in several other cities across Syria.

The Damascus rally was held two days after President Assad announced that parliamentary elections will be held in Syria on May 7, the third legislative vote in Syria since Assad took office in 2000.

The parliamentary elections will be held under a new constitution that was approved by a majority of Syrian voters in a February 26 referendum. Assad endorsed the new constitution on February 28 as part of the promised reforms in the country.

The new constitution excludes Article 8, which declared the ruling Baath Party as the “leader of the state and society,” and also establishes a multiparty system in Syria and limits the presidential term to two seven-year periods.

The May 7 parliamentary elections will also be the first such vote under the new multiparty system.

Syria has been experiencing unrest, reportedly sponsored by Western governments and their Arab allies, since mid-March 2011.

The West and the Syrian opposition blame Damascus for the year-long turmoil, but the government says “terrorists” are responsible for the unrest, which it says is being orchestrated from abroad.

The Syrian president said on February 20 that “some foreign countries” are fueling the turmoil in Syria by supporting and funding “armed terrorist groups fighting against the government.”



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