Syria's Assad Claims Landslide Victory

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he won nearly 89 percent of the vote and would serve a third term as head of the country.

Opponents called the election a fraud, saying the other candidates were unknown, but the head of Syria's Supreme Court claimed nearly three-quarters of eligible voters cast their ballots.

Assad boasted of giving voters a choice instead of the single-candidate elections for his late father, Hafez Assad, and for him when voters could only vote "yes" or "no."

Despite Syria's three-year-old civil war, which has taken the lives of at least 160,000 men, women and children, and spawned millions of refugees as well as displaced persons within the country, Assad enjoys strong backing from Iran and Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry scoffed at the election, calling it "a great big zero" and saying "nothing has changed."

"The conflict is the same, the terror is the same, the killing is the same," he said.

Meanwhile, officials from some 30 countries, including Iran, Russia and Venezuela, said Syria's free and transparent multi-candidate election would lead to "stability" in the war-torn country.

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YNet contributed to this report.

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