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Russia Contends Al-Assad Won't Be Pushed Out of Syria

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Moscow appears unwilling to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he should forget about trying to hold on to power for the good of his country, which has been embroiled in a nearly two-year-long conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives.

Following his meeting last Saturday with United Nations-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters that Syrian rebels are the ones who should give up hoping that al-Assad will step down, as has been the opposition's wish from the start of the fighting that began in March 2011.

According to Lavrov, al-Assad is firmly entrenched as Syria's leader and "there's no possibility to change his position."

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin had said that Moscow would not grant al-Assad asylum if he desired it and that his government would not pay "any price" to assure that the Syrian president remains in power.

Despite this, Lavrov's statements suggest that Russia won't take part in any international effort to force al-Assad out of power, essentially a precondition for any resolution of the Syrian conflict.

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