Russia backtracks on statement about Assad's fall

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MOSCOW — Russia issued a clumsy denial today of a statement from its point man on Syria, who said a day earlier that Syrian President Bashar Assad is losing control of the country. The Foreign Ministry insisted it is not changing its stance on the embattled Syrian regime.

Russia’s explanation — that the official was characterizing the opinion of the Syrian opposition rather than stating Russia’s position — did not jibe with the words of Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who was quoted as saying Thursday: “there is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory,” and adding that “an opposition victory can’t be excluded.”

The Foreign Ministry insisted in a statement today that Bogdanov was referring only to the claims of the “Syrian opposition and its foreign sponsors forecasting their quick victory over the regime in Damascus.”

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