May 26th is election day in Syria, with everything reportedly going along as planned, despite claims by both the “moderate opposition” and the collective West.

In addition to Assad, Arab Organization for Human Rights head Mahmoud Ahmed Merei and former state minister for People’s Assembly Affairs Abdullah Sallum Abdullah are also running for the presidency.

In order to run for president, candidates must be at least 40 years old and have Syrian citizenship by birth. The candidates are not allowed to have dual citizenship or be married to a foreign national.

Candidates must have lived in Syria for at least 10 years prior to the election, and are barred from office if they are convicted of a crime.

The Syrian Supreme Constitutional Court has rejected multiple candidates for not meeting the legal and constitutional requirements, allowing only three of around 50 hopefuls.

Syrian Information Minister Imad Sarah has affirmed that the Syrian citizens are adhered to their land and homeland and do not allow anyone to encroach on their sovereignty, and that the influx of citizens to polling stations to cast their votes in the presidential elections in the provinces, and also to Syrian embassies across the world, is testament to that.

Voting appears to be going without a hitch in all areas, including volatile regions such as Hasakah and others.

The US, UK, France, Germany and Italy released a statement characterizing Syria’s upcoming elections on Wednesday as neither “free nor fair.”

The Western nations claim the elections are a fraud orchestrated by incumbent President Bashar Assad, who is virtually certain to win another term in office.

The statement said all Syrians should be able to participate in the voting process, including Syrian refugees living abroad. Currently, only Syrians abroad with a valid Syrian passport and an exit stamp from an official border crossing are currently allowed to vote, a rule that excludes many who fled the country.

“Without these elements, this fraudulent election does not represent any progress towards a political settlement,” the statement added. “We urge the international community to unequivocally reject this attempt by the Assad regime to regain legitimacy without ending its human rights violations and meaningfully participating in the UN-facilitated political process to end the conflict.”

Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians living in Lebanon have been bussed to their country’s embassy near Beirut to cast ballots in early voting ahead of the presidential election in the war-torn country.

Embassy staff and Lebanese soldiers struggled to control the crowds, many of whom carried banners in support of incumbent President Bashar al-Assad.

This is Syria’s second presidential election since the beginning of the war a decade ago that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions to leave the country. Al-Assad, who secured 88.7% of the vote in Syria’s last presidential election in 2014, is widely expected to win a fourth seven-year term.