BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is gradually losing control over his country, United States ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said in remarks published Wednesday.
The U.S. official, who spoke to pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper, also said that Assad will remain convinced he will stay in power until opposition troops arrive outside his palace.
Assad’s main ally, Russia, last week downplayed the possibility of Assad remaining in power.
The country’s prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev said Assad has made a “fundamental, perhaps fatal” mistake by not implementing political reforms and including the opposition more quickly.
However, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar recently quoted Assad asserting that his forces had made "significant gains" in the conflict.
According to the U.S. envoy, a military battle in Syria would end in favor of the opposition but it would come at too high a price and that the U.S. would still favor a political solution that would lead to Assad stepping down and establishing a transitory government.
In his latest speech from the Opera House in Syria early January, Assad pledged to continue fighting "terrorist" violence and urged foreign countries to end support for his enemies while also offering a national dialogue and a constitutional referendum to end Syria's bloody crisis.
The president, however, didn’t say he is willing to step down, a key opposition demand as the first stage of a political transition in the country.
Assad’s speech drew a number of international reactions, with his opponents accusing him of being in denial.
The U.S. ambassador also reiterated denial that Syrian official Jihad Makdissi, is in the U.S.
He said that Washington has investigated Makdissi’s presence in the country and reached the conclusion that he was not in the U.S.
Conflicting media reports have emerge over the whereabouts of Makdissi following media reports the former Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman had defected.
One of the reports has said that the CIA helped Makdissi flee to the U.S.