May 23, 2014 4:28 PM EDT

A mortar attack on an election campaign tent packed with supporters of President Bashar Assad killed 39 people and wounded 205 according to Syrian state TV.

The shelling late Thursday marked the first attack on a campaign event ahead of the June 3 vote that Assad is widely expected to win, the Associated Press reports. Opposition activists and the West have condemned the elections — which come in the midst of a three-year civil war — as a sham.

State television first showed images of Assad supporters in the southern city of Daraa dancing in a tent. Next it showed dead and wounded people, including children, lying on the ground.


Write to Noah Rayman at

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