Syrian president Bashar al-Assad votes asma
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad casts his ballot in Damascus flanked by his wife AsmaFacebook

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a third term in office.

The parliamentary speaker confirmed that Mr. Assad won the Syrian presidential election with 88.7% of the votes.

In a televised address, Jihad Laham said: "I declare the victory of Dr Bashar Hafez al Assad as president of the Syrian Arab Republic with an absolute majority of the votes cast in the election."

The announcement was met by celebratory gunfire in the capital Damascus.

The president faced opposition for the first time in decades as two presidential candidates outside of the Assad family were allowed to stand.

Mr Assad's two challengers, Hassan al Nouri and Maher Hajjar, won 4.3% and 3.2% of the votes respectively.

According to the Supreme Constitutional Court, the turnout was 73.42% with voting permitted only in government-controlled areas.

The Syrian opposition described the decision to stage the election during a civil war as a "farce".

The opposition's allies in the West also denounced the ballot, with US Secretary of State John Kerry describing it as "meaningless"

160,000 people have been killed in the civil war in Syria, while nearly three million have been displaced.