A Russian official has said for the first time that the Syrian government may be defeated by opposition forces.
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are “losing more and more control and territory”, deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Thursday.
Russia was also making plans for a possible evacuation of thousands of its citizens in Syria, Mr Bogdanov said.
Russia has been one of the staunchest international allies of Mr Assad’s government.
“Unfortunately, we cannot rule out the victory of the Syrian opposition,” Mr Bogdanov said.
Russia, along with China, has used its veto at the UN Security Council to block resolutions condemning the Syrian government’s use of violence.
Mr Bogdanov repeated Russia’s call for dialogue between the two sides, predicting that the fighting would grow more intense.
He said tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of people would be killed if that happened.
“If such a price for ousting the president seems acceptable to you, then what can we do? We consider it unacceptable,” he said.
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