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IS expanded since start of air strikes, Assad claims

Islamic State has expanded since the start of US-led air strikes last September, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Reuters

Asked how effective the strikes had been in fighting the terror group, Assad told CBS: "Sometimes you could have local benefit but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS, actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes."

Assad claimed that there were some estimates that IS was attracting 1,000 recruits a month in Syria.

He also warned the group were expanding into new territory in Iraq and Libya.

The Syrian president - who has been involved in a brutal civil war with rebels since 2011 - said he would leave power when he no longer retained public support, or felt he could not represent "the Syrian interests, and values."

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Assad calls Syrian people 'honourable' and 'free'

President Bashar al-Assad called the people of Syria "honourable" and "free" during a speech after being sworn in for a new seven-year term.

President Bashar al-Assad Credit: Reuters

He reminded how, throughout the crisis in Syria, some have spoken on behalf of the Syrian people repeating the slogan 'The People Want'.

Yes, the people did want, the people did make their decision, the people did act...Years have passed since some chanted for freedom, but you, the Syrians, were the freemen at the time of subordination, and you were the masters at the time of acting.

– President Bashar al-Assad

Bashar al-Assad sworn in again as Syrian president

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has been sworn today in for a new seven-year term.

The ceremony was broadcast on state television. Credit: RTV

The election, dismissed as a sham by Assad's opponents, underlines his grip on power more than three years into Syria's civil war.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad walks down a red carpet as he is sworn in for a new term. Credit: RTV

Rebel fighters fire rockets to disrupt Syrian elections

Rebel fighters have fired Grad rockets towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stationed at the entrance of the coastal city of Lataqia, according to Reuters.

Rebel fighters prepare to fire a Grad rocket towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Credit: Reuters

The rebels told the news agency they were attempting to disrupt today's presidential elections, which are widely expected to see President Bashar al-Assad secure a third seven-year term.

Rebel fighters fire a Grad rocket towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Reuters

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Bashar al-Assad casts vote in Syrian election

The Syrian president - Bashar al-Assad - has cast his vote in a controversial presidential election, which he is widely expected to win.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad votes in elections on June 3. Credit: RTV

The balloting, Syria's first multi-candidate election in more than 40 years, comes as a devastating, three-year civil war that activists say has killed more than 160,000 people, about a third of them civilians, rages on.

The opposition and government critics have condemned the vote as a sham. Syria's two main internal opposition groups are boycotting the vote while many activists around the country refer to it as "blood elections".

Syria announces date for presidential election

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare trip outside the capital Damascus. Credit: Instagram/syrianpresidency

Syria will hold a presidential election on 3rd June, state media reported, setting the date for a vote likely to give President Bashar al-Assad a third term.

Assad is battling a three-year-old rebellion against his rule. International powers who back his opponents have described plans to hold the election as a "parody of democracy".

Pictures of Assad monastery visit posted on Instagram

Pictures of a rare trip by Syria's president Bashas al-Assad outside Damascus have been posted on social media site Instagram.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare trip outside the capital Damascus Credit: Instagram/syrianpresidency

Mr Assad was visiting the Mar Saks Greek Orthodox monastery in the Christian town of Maaloula, according to state media.

Pictures of Bashar al-Assad visiting a 4th century monastery were posted on his Instagram account Credit: Instagram/syrianpresidency

Syria's Assad makes rare trip outside Damascus

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare public appearance outside Damascus by visiting the Christian town of Maaloula, according to state media.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking in Damascus in March Credit: REUTERS/SANA

Mr Assad inspected the Mar Saks Greek Orthodox monastery, dating from the 4th century, which state media said was damaged by rebels.

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