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Polling stations open in government-held areas for Syria's presidential election

Polling stations have opened in government-held areas in Syria for the country's presidential election — a vote that President Bashar Assad is widely expected to win.

Tuesday's balloting comes amid a devastating, three-year civil war that activists say has killed more than 160,000 people. It's also Syria's first multi-candidate election in more than 50 years.

The Syrian opposition and government critics have denounced the vote as a sham.

The election is taking place only in areas under government control. Much of northern and eastern Syria is in rebel hands.

Assad faces two government-approved challengers in the race, Maher Hajjar and Hassan al-Nouri, both of whom were little known in Syria before declaring their candidacy for the country's top post in April.