Russia denies top diplomat hinting at Assad's 'possible' ouster in Syria
Russia's Foreign Ministry has refuted claims over a top diplomat saying that the Syrian president Bashar Assad is losing control of his country.
It said in a statement that deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov "has not made any statements or special interviews recently" on Syria but was simply citing the stance of the Syrian opposition while giving a speech, the Daily Express reports.
According to the paper, earlier, Russian state-owned news agencies had quoted Bogdanov as saying that rebels might win the civil war, a comment that appeared to dramatically shift Russia's stance on Syria.
"An opposition victory can't be excluded, unfortunately, but it's necessary to look at the facts: There is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory," he had said.
The US later commended Russia for "waking up to the reality" by acknowledging the regime's impending fall, the paper said.
Analysts viewed the diplomat's statement as Russia's attempt to begin positioning itself for Assad's eventual defeat, the paper added.