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Fighting continues in Homs and Aleppo provinces on eve of Syria election

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Fighting continues in Homs and Aleppo provinces on eve of Syria election


Fighting has continued in Syria, on the eve of the first parliamentary elections in four years.

Opposition activists reported airstrikes by government forces in Homs province.

Footage released by Talbiseh Media Centre showed residents evacuating an area in Talbiseh hit by an airstrike on Monday.

Activists say barrel bombs were used. People including children were seen receiving treatment in hospital. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported two dead and many injured.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State has retaken a strategically important town near the Turkish border. Al-Rai is on a supply route to its territory in Aleppo province.

An eruption of fighting in the region in the last fortnight marks the most serious challenge to a truce brokered by the US and Russia.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, visiting Damascus, has been told by the Syrian government that Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been ordering insurgents to stage attacks aimed at foiling planned Geneva talks.

Wednesday’s planned elections have been criticised as a sham by the international community and the opposition.

But some in Damascus resent what they see as outside interference.

“Who should decide – them or us? How can someone sitting in a five star hotel come and take over power? If they could not do that by force, do they think they can come now and take us for a ride?” said one man.

All of the nearly 12,000 candidates are said to favour the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the vote is being held only in state-held areas, not in those controlled by rebels of ISIL.

But the Chairman of the Election Committee, Hisham Al-Shaar, said people displaced from some of the worst war-torn areas – such as Aleppo and Deir al-Zour, would be able to vote in polling centres set up in other parts of the country.

Some 200,000 people have been trapped in Deir al-Zour, which is besieged by ISIL.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme has released a video showing humanitarian aid being dropped on the city – the first such assistance to besieged areas since March 2014, according to WFP.

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