Russia says Assad ready to step down in ‘civilized manner,’ Syria denies

Al Arabiya reports: Russian ambassador to France Aleksandr Orlov has said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ready to step down but ‘in civilized manner,’ but the claims were dismissed by the Syrian state television as “baseless.”

Ambassador Orlov told French RFI radio that Assad, facing a surging uprising against his rule, signalled readiness to step down when he accepted a recent international declaration which foresaw a transition towards a more democratic Syria.

“At the Geneva conference, there was a final communiqué that foresees a transition towards a more democratic system,” Orlov said. “This final communiqué was accepted by Assad. Assad nominated his representative to lead the negotiations with the opposition for this transition. That means he accepted to leave, but in an orderly way.”

Syria’s Information Ministry quickly denied this, saying Orlov’s remarks were “completely devoid of truth.”

Orlov further said his personal opinion Assad would not be able to remain in power. “I think it will be difficult for him to stay after everything that has happened. But essentially, he has accepted that he will have to leave.”

Al Arabiya is also reporting that Russia will delay shipment of attack helicopters to Syria.

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