Syria's Assad says Moscow 'never' spoke of departure

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday he has never faced pressure from Russia to step aside, as US Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Moscow seeking to revive stalled peace efforts. Speaking to NBC News in Damascus, Assad insisted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had never raised the issue of his departure or a political transition. Assad’s fate is a key question in efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement to Syria’s five-year civil war.

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