As expected, Syrian President Bashar Assad has won a third term, with nearly 89% of the vote, reports RT.com. Syrian election officials told the media that more than 73% of Syria’s population turned out to cast their ballots. That amounted to more than 11.6 million Syrians inside the country and millions more living abroad as well.

Syrian President Assad

Assad’s time in office marred by war

President Bashar Assad’s terms in office have been plagued by a violent civil war as many protested his policies. Assad’s opponents said the election was nothing but a charade, as the two other candidates were relatively unknown and did not actually offer a real alternative to Assad. According to Reuters, many said an election held in the midst of a civil war could not be counted as credible. The U.S. has sided with the rebels against Assad.

Approximately 3 million Syrians have left the country because of the bloody civil war, which has claimed about 160,000 lives.

Syrians fire guns in response to Assad’s win

Jihad Lahan, the Syrian parliament speaker, announced the final results. Assad’s two challengers hardly got any votes at all, with Hassarn al-Nouri securing 4.3% of the votes and Maher Hajjar getting 3.2% of the votes. This was the first time in decades that there was more than one candidate on the ballot. Voting was only held in the parts of Syria that are controlled by the government, which means that large parts of the northern and eastern sections of the country did not vote. Rebels currently hold those areas.

After officials announced the results, the streets of Damascus were lit up with gunfire and the sound of heavy weapons being shot off, according to the Associated Press. Men in the Syrian capital reportedly cheered and chanted, “With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you, Bashar!”

In spite of the rejoicing in Damascus, it’s expected that Assad’s win in the election could prolong the Syrian civil war. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry publicly denounced Syria’s election, saying that it was “a great big zero” and that it could not have been fair because millions of the nation’s citizens did not even have an opportunity to vote.