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Russia Denies Change in Stance on Syria

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Russia's foreign ministry says Moscow's policy on Syria has not changed, after a top diplomat was quoted as saying Syria's opposition may win its battles against President Bashar al-Assad.

The ministry, on Friday, said Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov had not made any statements or conducted "special interviews" with journalists over the past few days regarding Syria.

On Thursday, Russian media quoted him as saying Assad was increasingly losing control of his country's territory, and that an opposition victory could not be ruled out. It was seen as the first time Russia, a powerful Syrian ally, had acknowledged the Syrian government was beginning to crumble in its nearly two-year battle against anti-government forces.

But Russia's foreign ministry said Bogdanov was referring to the claims of the ``Syrian opposition and its foreign sponsors forecasting their quick victory over the regime in Damascus." It said Bogdanov made the remark to a Kremlin advisory body that was discussing issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

Moscow and Beijing have repeatedly blocked efforts by the United Nations Security Council to address the Syrian crisis.

Separately, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen predicted a pessimistic outcome for Assad. On Thursday, he said Assad's government was "approaching collapse" and the Syrian leader's fall was "only a matter of time."

Earlier this week, a group of more than 100 nations formally recognized a newly formed opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Article by VOA News