BEIRUT - The Syrian government made clear on Tuesday it had no intention of delaying an election that is likely to give President Bashar Assad a third term, regardless of war or politics.
Assad, who is battling a three-year-old rebellion against his rule, has not said whether he will stand in the election due by July, but allies in Russia and Lebanon's Shi'ite movement Hezbollah have predicted he will stand and win.International powers who back Syria's opposition have described the plans to hold elections as a "parody of democracy" that would destroy peace talks.
Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi nevertheless said elections would not be delayed and that military operations would continue regardless of the poll, pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reported on its website on Tuesday.
"It is not for any authority to postpone or cancel this election, which will be run on schedule," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Assad's forces have advanced around the capital Damascus and the Lebanese border in recent months, helping secure the country's centre under government control.
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