Vote counting was under way on Tuesday in Syria after reruns in five polling stations delayed the results of parliamentary polls guaranteed to renew the ruling party’s hegemony.

The reruns of Sunday’s vote were held Monday in four polling centres in Aleppo province and one in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The fresh polling was ordered by the electoral commission after suspected discrepancies were reported between the number of cast ballots and the number of registered voters.

Such reruns are not uncommon in Syria, where results took four days to be released in the previous legislative polls held in 2016.

The election comes at a critical phase for the Damascus government, which has reconquered much of the territory lost at the beginning of the country’s war but faces its hardest economic challenges yet.

More than 7,000 polling stations opened across government-held parts of Syria, including for the first time in former opposition strongholds, in the third such polls since the war started nine years ago.

The millions of Syrians who fled the conflict were not eligible to vote.

Several lists were allowed to run across the country but, without any real opposition, President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party and its allies were expected to win most of parliament’s 250 seats.

"The Baath party -- led by the president, Bashar al-Assad -- will win most of the... seats," said Edward Dehnert, an analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

"The remainder will be split between allied parties in the Baath-led progressive national front and independents, including prominent business figures."

The elections were twice postponed from April due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has infected 522 people and killed 29 in government-held areas, according to official figures.

Portraits of the contenders have been displayed across the capital for weeks, with the 1,658 candidates, including several prominent businessmen.

Many candidates are running on pledges to tackle sharp inflation and improve infrastructure ravaged by the conflict.

The next presidential polls are expected in 2021, and potential candidates will need the written approval of at least 35 members of parliament.

Syria says Israeli missiles wound 7 troops south of capital

DAMASCUS, July 21 (Online): Israeli strikes south of the Syrian capital on Monday wounded seven Syrian soldiers, state media reported, in an attack which a war monitor said hit several positions of regime forces and Iran-backed militias.

"The Israeli enemy s air forces launched over the occupied Golan Heights several missiles towards southern Damascus," the official SANA news agency said, citing a military source.

"Our air defences responded to them and intercepted most" of the targets, it added. "The aggression wounded seven Syrian soldiers and led to material damage." Media correspondents in Damascus said they heard several loud blasts.

A military spokesman in Israel told media that its army "does not comment on foreign reports." According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Israeli attack hit several targets.

"At least six Israeli missiles hit several positions belonging to regime forces and pro-Iran militias south of Damascus," Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman told media.

"Air defences did not intercept a single target," he said, adding it was unknown if there were casualties and the extent of damage remained unclear.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of its civil war in 2011. It has targeted government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, saying its goal is to end Tehran s military presence in Syria.

It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria but says Iran s presence in support of the regime is a threat and that Israel will keep up strikes.