Syria will hold presidential elections on 3 June, the Speaker of the country’s parliament Muhammad al-Lahham announced on 21 April. Mortars struck near the parliament building in Damascus prior to the meeting of the deputies. Fighting was also taking place in the two major cities of Homs and Aleppo, with neither the government nor the opposition making significant gains – though reports indicate that the Syrian army and pro-regime forces are closing in on recapturing a mostly destroyed and largely abandoned Homs. Both President Bashar al-Asad and the opposition are playing a zero-sum game that excludes the other. President Asad has all but announced his candidacy, running for a third seven-year term.

The presidential elections put an end to the Geneva talks, as they effectively dismiss the opportunity of a transitional government including both Mr Asad’s supporters and the opposition. (CONTINUED - 785 WORDS)