Middle East

Syria voices: Voting amid violence

The Syrian government has gone ahead with local elections across the country. Polling booths staffed by government employees opened in 154 cities and over 500 towns.

Elections happened despite violent unrest across the country and a national strike called by the opposition and what appears to be a imminent government assault on the city of Homs.

The BBC spoke to two Syrians, who wished to remain anonymous, about the situation in Damascus and Homs.

OPPOSITION ACTIVIST AND DOCTOR, HOMS

They are attacking five neighbourhoods with heavy artillery in Homs. Many houses are damaged.

You ask me about the election? The polling stations are empty, the only people there are government supervisors, that's it. Everyone else is staying in their homes.

Image caption Battle scarred Homs: Intense fighting continues in the city

I expect the government to fake results and claim that people turned out here.

The security forces are trying to open shops and markets closed by the strike. They were using loudspeakers to order children and teachers to go back to school.

This was while there were rooftop snipers shooting anything that moved.

It is often impossible for me and others to get to wounded protesters. Red Crescent ambulances are not being allowed in to pick up casualties. The security forces are out of control in Homs.

Eight people have died in the city today, including 2 children and 1 woman. Yesterday they killed 15 and two of them were aged five and one. Homs is a city full of blood.

BUSINESSWOMAN, DAMASCUS

[The BBC spoke to a Damascus businesswoman sympathetic to the regime.]

The city is calm. As far as I know people are voting. Though I am not going to bother.

The news is so bad every day. I've stopped watching it. I am depressed.

Image caption Voting in Damascus where the city is calm

Everybody is feeling bad - personally, financially, morally we feel bad all over. The city is very stressed out.

Sanctions are hitting businesses really hard. My salary has been cut by 50%. But I've still got a job. A lot of people are losing theirs.

Food and fuel costs are rising. There is a black market and people are profiteering, taking advantage of the situation. It's wrong. But what do you expect? That is what happens in war.

All that anybody wants is be able to feed their families and that is getting harder and harder to do.

People I talk to are very angry with the Arab League (sanctions).The league is taking a stand against the government but it is the people who get hurt.

I am making plans to leave the country. Many are like me, they just want to get out but they can't afford to. So they are taking it day by day.

It's chaos. My country is already in a civil war. I'm one of the lucky ones - I can still get out.

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