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• Bashar al-Assad has claimed an overwhelming victory in the presidential election held in June 2014.

• However, most of those living in areas controlled by rebel forces were prevented from voting.

• The election took place against a background of continuing violence as government forces took control of the strategic city of Homs.

• The government looks to have the upper hand although the takeover of Mosul by the extremist group ISIS could significantly strengthen the jihadist threat to the Assads in the longer run

• Assistance to the Syrian government from Russia, Hizballah and Iran has been highly significant

• The suffering of Syrian civilians continues unabated and violence is likely to persist in the country for some time.

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