After more than a year of steady military gains by government loyalists, the poll is seen as a chance for Assad also to claim a political victory over his opponents, who have struggled over the past year to make meaningful progress on the battlefield or to forge a coherent alternative to his rule.
Coming on a day when President Obama signaled in a major foreign policy address that he would offer no significant new assistance for the rebels battling to topple Assad, the mayhem at the embassy in Lebanon seemed to reinforce the sense that there is no immediate end in sight to Assad’s rule.
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