RFL/RE – Iranian President Hassan Rohani has congratulated Syria’s Bashar al-Assad on winning a fourth seven-year presidential term in an election dismissed as a sham by the opposition and Western governments, according to an Iranian presidential website.
“I sincerely congratulate you on the successful conduct of the elections and your reelection as president of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Rohani said in a statement to Iran’s close ally Assad.
“The Syrian people took an important step in deciding the fate and prosperity of Syria with their large turnout and decisive choice,” Rohani added, according to his website.
Assad won the election on May 27 with a majority of 95 percent.
The election was the second presidential vote since the country’s conflict began 10 years ago to challenge Assad’s authority following his takeover from his father in 2000, and featured no independent monitors.
Assad ran against two little-known figures for Syria’s top post, which has been held by a member of the Assad family for five decades.
No vote was held in northeastern Syria, which is controlled by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters, or in the northwestern province of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
The Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 when anti-Assad protests turned into an armed insurgency in response to a brutal military crackdown.
The fighting has left nearly half a million dead and half the country’s population displaced, including more than 5 million refugees outside Syria.
With the help of Russia and Iran, Assad has crushed the insurgency and regained control over 70 percent of territory.