Russia denies its diplomat talked of Assad's fall

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MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's Foreign Ministry has denied that a top diplomat said Syrian President Bashar Assad is losing control of his country.

It said in a statement on Friday that Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov "has not made any statements or special interviews recently" on Syria but was simply citing the stance of the Syrian opposition while giving a speech on Thursday.

Russian state-owned news agencies had quoted Bogdanov as saying that rebels might win the civil war, a comment that appeared to dramatically shift Russia's stance on Syria. The U.S. later on Thursday commended Russia for "waking up to the reality" by acknowledging the regime's impending fall.

Analysts viewed the diplomat's statement as Russia's attempt to begin positioning itself for Assad's eventual defeat.