The Guardian reports: Russia has acknowledged for the first time that the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is losing control of the country.
“One must look the facts in the face: the tendency is that the regime and government of Syria is losing more and more control and more and more territory,” Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said on Thursday, Russian news agencies reported. “Unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out.”
“Today we are dealing with issues of preparing an evacuation – we have a mobilisation plan, we are figuring out where our citizens are,” he said. An estimated 5,300 Russian citizens live in Syria.
Bogdanov’s statement was the first time a Russian official has publicly considered the possibility of an opposition victory in the conflict, which is estimated to have killed more than 40,000 people. Russia has stood by Assad, providing his regime with weapons and repeatedly blocking UN actions despite an international outcry.