Violence across Syria as constitution vote begins

BASSEM MROUE ZEINA KARAM Associated Press Published:

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrians have begun voting on a new draft constitution as activists report clashes and shelling around the country.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) Sunday.

Eligible voters will cast ballots on whether they approve or reject the recently drafted constitution that supposedly ends the ruling Baath party's domination of politics since 1963.

Most Syrian opposition groups are boycotting the vote, saying they will accept nothing less than President Bashar Assad abandoning power.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least two people were killed Sunday in the southern province of Daraa, where the anti-Assad uprising began in March.

The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, reported violence in several areas.

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Mroue reported from Beirut.