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Syria says its presidential elections to kick off June 3

DAMASCUS--Syria said Monday it will hold presidential elections expected to return President Bashar al-Assad to office on June 3, despite a civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people.

Underlining the ongoing violence in the country, mortar fire hit near the parliament building shortly before the election date was announced, killing two people.

Syria's first presidential election — after constitutional amendments did away with the old referendum system — will be held amid violence that has killed 150,000 people since March 2011, according to one monitoring group.

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