Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Russia's RIA new agency, in Damascus, Syria in this handout file picture provided by SANA on March 30, 2016. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters
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As the Syria peace talks resume next week, President Bashar Assad, backed militarily by Iran and Russia, shows no willingness to compromise, much less step aside to allow a transition Western powers claim is the solution to the conflict. Threatened by rebel advances last year, Assad is now pumped up with confidence after Russian airstrikes reversed the tide and enabled his army to recover lost ground from Sunni insurgents as well as the militants of Daesh (ISIS).That led to speculation among Assad's foes that Russia was contemplating whether to ditch Assad – an outcome many Syria watchers find highly improbable.It was also intended as a jolt to Assad, by then so emboldened at the way Russia and Iran had transformed his weak position that he was announcing plans to recapture all of Syria.Russia's involvement in Syria has given it greater insight into the structure of the Assad rule, constructed to intermesh the Assad family and allies from its minority Alawite community with the security services and military command.Khaddour from Carnegie says Russia now realizes the circumstances for a transition do not yet exist, because removing Assad might unravel the whole power structure.
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