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September 29, 2022

Russia, NATO: Syrian regime nearing collapse

Damascus rejects foreign recognition of opposition coalition.

The Syrian opposition may well beat President Bashar al-Assad, the leader’s longtime ally Russia acknowledged Thursday, while in Damascus senior officials vehemently rejected a U.S. move to recognize a Syrian opposition movement as the representative of the Syrian people, CNN informs.Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad told Britain’s Independent newspaper the countries were “recognizing an artificial structure, a structure that will help promote the objectives of the U.S. and European countries in Syria.”His words were echoed by Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi, who told the newspaper the U.S. move was as if Syria “had recognized Liverpool Football Club as the sole representative of the British people while in fact it represented very little.”A Russian official has said for the first time that the Syrian government may be defeated by opposition forces, the BBC reported. 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. Later on Thursday, Nato’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisation believed the Syrian government was approaching collapse.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. Mr Bogdanov said plans were being drawn up for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens. “We have mobilisation plans and are clarifying where our citizens are located,” he said. Mr Bogdanov also raised concerns about “extremists” seizing chemical weapons arsenals, according to the Interfax news agency.Western nations have in recent days raised the prospect of Syrian government forces themselves using chemical weapons. Mr Bogdanov’s comments do not mean Moscow has changed its official position.  Russia still maintains that the ousting of President Assad would deepen the conflict, but this is the first time Russia has publicly acknowledged that the Syrian president faces possible defeat, our correspondent adds. In Brussels, Mr Rasmussen said the collapse of the Syrian government was “only a question of time”, adding that President Assad should “initiate a process to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people”. At a meeting in Morocco on Wednesday, more than 100 countries recognised an opposition coalition as the sole “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people.

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