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Syria begins election vote counting

Counting is under way in Syria after a parliamentary election which the US has said "borders on ludicrous".

President Bashar Assad's regime praised Monday's poll as a milestone in promised reforms and said officials were now counting votes.

The opposition boycotted the election and said it was designed to strengthen Mr Assad's grip on power.

The poll for the 250-member parliament is unlikely to change the trajectory of the revolt in Syria.

Special envoy Kofi Annan is due to brief the UN Security Council about the situation. The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed in 14 months of turmoil.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that balloting in the current atmosphere in Syria "borders on ludicrous".

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