Russia rumored to be backing plans for Assad replacement
Russian president, Vladimir Putin
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Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will endorse plans for Syria's veteran vice-president, Farouq al-Sharaa, to replace President Bashar al-Assad in a transitional administration, according to online reports.
In an interview in October, Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davoutoglu, backed Sharaa to lead a possible transitional government in Syria, saying: "Farouq al-Sharaa is a man of reason and conscience and he has not taken part in the massacres in Syria."
"Nobody knows the [Syrian] system better than him," he explained.
Despite repeated reports of his defection - denied by Sharaa and the Syrian government - Sharaa's close links with the regime have led many to reject Davoutoglu's claim that the opposition would accept him as a future leader.
However, on Monday Putin reportedly visited Turkey's capital, Ankara, to discuss the idea.
During the Russian president's visit, Reuters reported that stray shells aimed at rebels in frontier town of Ras al-Ain, landed in Turkish territory, leaving security forces scrambling for fighter jets to defend themselves from the spillover of violence.