Bashar al-Assad’s chances of retaining power are getting “smaller and smaller” every day, says Dmitry Medvedev

MOSCOW: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chances of retaining power are getting “smaller and smaller” every day, according to the transcript of an interview with CNN released by Medvedev’s office on Sunday.

Medvedev’s remarks were the most vocal Russian statement that Assad’s days could be numbered. But he reiterated calls for talks between the government and its foes and repeated Moscow’s position that Assad must not be pushed out by external forces.

“I think that with every day, every week and every month the chances of his preservation are getting smaller and smaller,” Medvedev was quoted as saying. “But I repeat again, this must be decided by the Syrian people. Not Russia, not the United States, not any other country.”

“The task for the United States, the Europeans and regional powers … is to sit the parties down for negotiations, and not just demand that Assad go and then be executed like (the late
former Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi or be carried to court sessions on a stretcher like (Egypt’s) Hosni Mubarak.”

Russia has been Assad’s most important ally throughout the 22-month-old Syrian conflict, which began with peaceful street protests and evolved into an armed uprising against his rule.

Moscow has blocked three U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pushing him out or pressuring him to end the bloodshed, which has killed more than 60,000 people. But Russia has also
distanced itself from Assad by saying it is not trying to prop him up and will not offer him asylum

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