DAMASCUS, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Registration for Syria's contentious June 3 presidential vote was wrapped up Thursday with 24 contenders, including incumbent President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Syrian parliament.
Parliament Speaker Jihad al-Laham announced the names of the last seven people who have registered their candidacies at the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) before the deadline of Thursday afternoon.
The 10-day registration for the elections started on April 22, triggering a barrage of criticism by the opposition and their Western backers.
The head of the SCC, Judge Adnan Zuraiq, was quoted by state news agency SANA as saying that the applications of the 24 contenders are going to be studied by the court in accordance with the electoral law and constitution.
Initial results will come out in five days, Zuraiq said.
By law, each runner for the elections must secure the backing of 35 parliamentarians of the 254-member parliament, a condition limiting the number of those who would eventually be declared candidates as each lawmaker is permitted to back one candidate only.
Voting for Syrians inside the country will start on June 3, while those overseas will cast their votes on May 28.
Opposition groups inside and outside Syria have criticized the decision to hold the presidential elections amid the current civil war in the country. More than 150,000 people have been killed and one third of the population displaced in grinding clashes between government troops and armed militant groups.
They also said that millions of Syrians are displaced in neighboring countries, many of whom don't have access to basic necessities, let alone access to polling stations.
Hisham Sha'ar, who heads the Syrian supreme committee for presidential elections, said recently that Syrians left the country illegally can't cast their ballots.
Government officials say President Bashar al-Assad is the "real guarantee" for the future of Syria and that it is very likely that he will be re-elected for a third seven-year term.
Violence persisted in the run-up to the presidential race.
On Thursday, a child was killed and 22 others wounded when mortar shells hit the pro-government suburb of Jaramana, east of the capital Damascus.
Mortar attacks on Jaramana have become almost a daily occurrence as the area is adjacent to the rebel-held al-Mlaiha suburb, where intense battles are currently taking place between rebels and government troops trying to wrest control over the strategic area.
SANA, the state news agency, said government troops on Thursday advanced in Damascus' eastern suburb of Jobar, killing an undisclosed number of rebel fighters.
On the opposition side, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government air strikes hit a school on Wednesday in a rebel-held area in Syria's northwestern province of Aleppo, killing 20 people, including 17 children.
The pro-opposition Sham Network said that 40 people were killed on Thursday in Aleppo, assigning the blame on aerial bombardment as well.
The alleged attacks came just days after rebels near Damascus fired mortar shells at a school in a central Damascus district and killed 14 students and a twin car bombing against a government- controlled area in the central province of Homs that killed 100 people.