Syrians voted in a parliamentary election in government-held areas of the country yesterday in what they called a show of support for President Bashar al-Assad, while his opponents and Western powers denounced the poll as illegitimate.

The election went ahead independently of a United Nations-led peace process aimed at ending the five-year-long war.

A second round of talks began in Geneva yesterday, but an upsurge in fighting has darkened the already bleak outlook for diplomacy.

The Government said the vote was held to comply with the constitution.

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The opposition, which wants the new peace talks to focus on a political transition, said the election was meaningless.

- Reuters