Syrian President Bashar al Assad was sworn in for a new seven-year term, following an election that affirmed his grip on power more than three years into Syria's civil war. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Bashar al Assad was sworn in for a new seven-year term on Wednesday (July 16), after an election victory that underlined his grip on power more than three years into Syria's civil war. The ceremony, which was held at the Presidential Palace in the Syrian capital Damascus, was broadcast on state television. The presidential election, dismissed as a sham by Assad's opponents, was held last month in areas of central and northern Syria that remain under state control. In a carefully choreographed event Assad strolled along red carpet, flanked by guards, which stretched to the entrance of the palace. Once inside he was greeted with a standing ovation from members of the People's Assembly With his hand placed on the Koran, Assad took the oath of office signaling the start of his third term. Assad has shored up his control over a strategic corridor of territory stretching north from Damascus, taking back major cities including Homs. Backed by Lebanese fighters, his forces are now squeezing rebels in Aleppo. But to the east and northeast, large parts of the country are in insurgents' hands. The militant Islamic State has expanded its control in recent weeks, defeating other Islamist factions with new weaponry brought in from Iraq. The United States, which has repeatedly said Assad has lost legitimacy, had described the election as meaningless.