Lina Khatib, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, called Tuesday’s presidential vote in Syria a “non-election” and said they were an attempt by Assad to find some legitimacy.

“We all know that what is happening is not free or fair,” said Khatib.

“The two candidates who are supposedly running against Assad are unknown, they have been handpicked by the regime just to pretend that this is a free election, they do not have a political programme, no one is actually going to vote for them, even though the results may be skewed by the regime to make it look like some people at least voted for them.”

Khatib, who follows the Syrian refugee community in Lebanon, said the high turnout numbers that have been reported among Syrian refugee communities abroad are the result of the government loyalists’ tactics and attempts at coercion.

This interview was published by the Associated Press.