Beirut: Syrian nationals in Lebanon and Jordan started to cast their ballots for a new president at embassies Wednesday irrespective of strong criticism of the elections from western countries and the UN.

Balloting at the Syrian embassy in Beirut began at 7.00 a.m. Wednesday, and was previously scheduled to carry on till 7.00 p.m. before being extended, Xinhua reported.

“Due to the heavy participation in the elections, the embassy was forced to extend the voting till Thursday midnight, so all the Syrian nationals living in Lebanon could cast their votes,” Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali said.

“The Syrian embassy will prepare the list of turnouts to be submitted to the Supreme Election Commission authorized to announce the results,” he added.

“All Syrians who were unable to record their names at the embassy should head on June 3 to one of the electoral centres on the border crossings,” the ambassador said.

According to the latest UN statistics, Lebanon now hosts more than one million Syrian refugees, which, as the Lebanese government claims, adds to another half a million Syrians who already live in the country before the Syrian crisis erupted. The influx of refugees has brought a huge mount of pressure on the Lebanese society.

Also, hundreds of Syrian nationals in Jordan started to cast their ballots in the presidential elections. In addition to supporters of incumbent President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian embassy in Amman also saw scores of Syrians carrying flags of the Free Syrian Army and chanting slogans against Assad and those who take part in the elections.

After overseas voting, a domestic one is scheduled for next Tuesday. More than 15 million eligible voters in and out of Syria are expected to cast their ballots.

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