DAMASCUS, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Higher Judicial Committee has extended the presidential voting period for another five hours until midnight Tuesday, according to the official SANA news agency.
"The closing time for voting has been pushed to midnight in all provinces due to high turnout," SANA quoted the committee as saying.
Syria's general election started at 7:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) amid criticism from Western countries and threats from the armed opposition. It was previously scheduled to end at 7:00 p.m. local time (1600 GMT).
In a previous statement, the committee said that turnout in Tuesday's voting was "beyond expectations," adding that some 220 more ballot boxes were distributed in the afternoon due to the large number of voters.
Syria's one-day presidential election started on Tuesday, with more than 15 million eligible and registered voters expected to cast their ballots for the country's three presidential contenders, including incumbent President Bashar al-Assad.
The Interior Ministry said 9,610 polling stations are available across the country, amid reports that the government has also set up ballot boxes in displacement shelters to allow thousands of displaced Syrians to participate in the voting process.
The vote is taking place despite rejection from the opposition and its Western backers, who have dismissed the poll as a "farce."