DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad is quietly planning to be re-elected despite three years of deadly conflict following an uprising against his leadership which has claimed the lives of over 140,000 people and displaced millions
Public gatherings have become platforms to urge the president to nominate himself, despite a continuing civil war that has fractured the country and destroyed any chance of a credible vote being held.
The Syrian president has not yet announced whether he will stand for a third term, in defiance of protesters, rebel fighters and Western foes who have demanded his removal.
But in state-controlled parts of Damascus preparations for his candidacy are unmistakable.
Some in war torn Syria express their loyalty in general displays of patriotism, while others explicitly call on the 48-year-old president to announce he will stand in the vote, which is due to be held by July.
In response to the pro-Assad mobilization, an online campaign to nominate popular opposition figure Moaz Alkhatib to run against him was launched last week and quickly snowballed into tens of thousands of supporters.