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Russian diplomats who recently met with Bashar al-Assad about two weeks ago say the Syrian president has lost all hope of victory or escape, a Russian political analyst tells Anne Barnard and Ellen Barry of The New York Times. Government forces have launched a counteroffensive to stem rebel gains around the capital as the opposition lays siege to the Damascus International Airport and closes in on Assad.
But even though Assad’s best soldiers and firepower are defending the capital, it seems that both internal and outside support for the regime is eroding.
Yesterday Reuters reported that the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman defected. Meanwhile a senior Turkish official told The Times that Russia is open to trying to persuade Assad to relinquish power, which would be a significant shift given that Moscow has provided Assad with money, weapons and military advisors throughout the 21-month uprising.
More from The Times:
“[Assad’s] mood is that he will be killed anyway,” Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a Russian foreign affairs journal and the head of an influential policy group, said in an interview in Moscow, adding that only an “extremely bold” diplomatic proposal could possibly convince Mr. Assad that he could leave power and survive.
“If he will try to go, to leave, to exit, he will be killed by his own people,” Mr. Lukyanov said, speculating that security forces dominated by Mr. Assad’s minority Alawite sect would not let him depart and leave them to face revenge. “If he stays, he will be killed by his opponents. He is in a trap. It is not about Russia or anybody else. It is about his physical survival.”
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