Russia says Bashar al-Assad is losing control of Syria
Syrians stand on the wreckage of a building, holding up placards and the Syrian pre-Baath flags during a demonstration against President Bashar Assad in Damascus last week. (AFP PHOTO/HO/SHAAM NEWS NETWORK)
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Russia's deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said on Thursday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is increasingly losing control and the opposition may win, according to Russian state news agency, ITAR-Tass.
During hearings at the Kremlin advisory body, the Public Chamber, on Thursday, Bogdanov said: "We must look at the facts: there is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory."
"The opposition victory can't be excluded," he said.
Bogdanov's comments are the first acknowledgment from a Russian official that the Syrian president could lose the 21-month civil war.
Throughout the Syrian conflict, Russia has shielded Assad from international sanctions and provided his regime with weapons.
While Bogdanov's comments don't signal an immediate change in stance, analysts say his remarks suggest that Moscow has begun positioning itself for a regime change in Syria.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Syria continues to rise.
In the latest attacks, a car bomb killed 16 people, seven of them children, in the Qatana suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday, according to state-run media.
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