Russia on Friday denied that its deputy foreign minister had said a day earlier that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is losing control of his country. Russia's explanation — that the official, Mikhail Bogdanov, was characterizing the opinion of the Syrian opposition rather than stating Russia's position — did not jibe with Bogdanov's words on Thursday: "There is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory," adding that "an opposition victory can't be excluded." The reversal indicates that Moscow has no intention yet of not backing its Syrian ally. A spokesman for the ministry said that Russia continues to call for a political dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.
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