DAMASCUS - Syria holds a parliamentary
election on Monday which authorities tout as a milestone of
political reform after a 14-month popular uprising against
Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Violence rocked the east of the country ahead of the vote,
underlining the challenge of holding a credible poll while
bloodshed continues and complicating the task of UN observers
monitoring a ceasefire declared on April 12.
Opposition activists reported fighting between the army and
rebels in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor and attacks by
Assad's forces that killed five people in other parts of the
country on Sunday, including one young man shot dead in
house-to-house raids in the capital Damascus.
Unlike autocratic leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen
who were toppled by the Arab Spring, Assad has kept enough
support among the military and his Alawite sect, which dominates
the army and security apparatus, to withstand the revolt.