A Syrian national living in Beirut, on his way to Beirut's Syrian Embassy to cast his vote in Syria's presidential election, holds up a picture of President al-Assad
A Syrian national living in Beirut, on his way to Beirut's Syrian Embassy to cast his vote in Syria's presidential election, holds up a picture of President al-AssadReuters

Syrian refugees in Lebanon have mobilised in their thousands to vote ahead of the Syrian Presidential election on 3 June.

Fights broke out between voters and Lebanese troops at the Syrian embassy near Beirut, with soldiers using batons to push back crowds desperate to cast their ballot.

Chants of "With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Bashar" and "Long live Syria!" emanated from the large crowd gathered outside the embassy.

Of the one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 500,000 are believed to be eligible to vote. This has left the one polling station at the Syrian embassy overcrowded and staff unable to cope with the numbers of voters.

Due to the huge turnour, officials said that they may extend the time period when votes can be cast if voters are unable to register their vote in time for the election.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been in power since 2000 and is widely expected to win the election as the three-year civil war continues to rage.

He will run against other six candidates, although none of the challengers are expected to end the Assad family's four decade reign over the country.

In spite of the violent civil war, Assad retains popular support among most of Syria's population, especially Christians and Alawites, as Islamic militant groups, such as Isis and the Nusra Front, are viewed as becoming more violent.

While expatriate voting began in Russia, Malaysia and Sudan, Syria's state-run news agency confirmed that Syrian refugees in France, Germany, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates had been banned from voting.

The UN has estimated that over 2.8 million Syrian refugees have fled into neighbouring countries, and more than 160,000 have died since the civil war began in 2011.