Bashar Al-Assad
Bashar Al-AssadReuters

Syria's ruling Baath party and its allies have won a majority in parliamentary elections held across government-held areas of the war-torn country, results announced Tuesday showed, according to AFP.

In a widely expected victory in a vote labelled a "farce" by the exiled opposition, President Bashar Al-Assad's party and allied candidates on the "National Unity" list took 177 seats out of 250 in Sunday's polls.

Turnout stood at 33 percent, down from 57 percent in 2016, electoral commission head Samer Zamreeq said.

The election comes after the Damascus government reconquered much of the territory lost at the beginning of the country's war, but as it battles international sanctions and a crumbling economy.

Among the winners, Hussam Qatirji, a businessman under sanctions from the European Union, retained his seat.

The EU accuses him of supporting pro-regime militias, but also facilitating the trade of arms, ammunition and fuel between the regime and various actors including the Islamic State organization.

More than 7,000 polling stations opened across government-held parts of Syria on Sunday, state media said, including for the first time in former opposition strongholds.

However, millions of Syrians who have fled the conflict were not eligible to vote.

Washington on Monday dismissed the elections as "stage-managed" and "unfree".

"Syria has seen no free and fair elections since Assad's Baath party came to power, and this year was no exception," State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said.

The vote was originally scheduled to take place in April but was twice postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has officially infected 540 people and killed 31 in government-held areas.

Unsurprisingly, during the last polls in 2016, Assad’s ruling Baath party and its allies won a majority of the chamber's 250 seats.

The Baath party has governed Syria with an iron fist for the past half-century. In 2012, however, Damascus for the first time allowed candidates from outside the party to run in legislative elections.

A presidential election was held in 2014 and won by Assad, though there were two other candidates who ran against him.