Syrians abroad start voting in presidential election; crowds wait to vote at embassy in Beirut

Thousands are flocking to the Syrian embassy in Lebanon as expat voting starts ahead of Syria's June 3 presidential election.

The balloting is widely expected to give President Bashar Assad a third seven-year term in office.

Most among the crowd gathered outside the embassy in central Beirut on Wednesday appear to be Assad supporters, reflecting expectations that those who oppose the Syrian ruler won't vote, even though there are two lesser known candidates in the race.

The Syrian opposition and its Western allies have denounced the election as a sham designed to lend Assad a veneer of electoral legitimacy.

The government, meanwhile, has touted the vote as the political solution to the three-year-long conflict that began as an uprising against Assad's rule.