Syria's Assad said Russia will 'not let him lose', says senior Tory
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad told a delegation of MPs that Russian president Vladimir Putin will not let him "lose", a senior Tory said.
David Davis MP, who was part of the delegation, described the brutal leader as "polite and courteous" but added that he "sidestepped the barrel bomb issue."
He told the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show: "He said Putin said 'we will not let you lose', which for me was the most important phrase of the entire visit because that actually defines what the outcomes are going to be.
"If the Russians will not let them lose, then there are two possible outcomes, the jihadist victory, which would be a disaster in my view by the way, the jihadist victory is not on the cards. Either a negotiated outcome or a Syrian victory is on the cards."
Last month, Russia made the surprising announcement that it would pull its troops out of Syria.
Protests against the Assad regime flared up during the Arab Spring and escalated into a full-blown civil war that has left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead.
Assad has previously denied using chemical weapons and barrel bombs on civilian neighbourhoods during the conflict.
But Mr Davis said he would not make removing Assad "a red line at the moment".
The Tory MP said that one charity had told him "there is nobody that the West would recognise as a moderate" on the ground in Syria.
One of the "most important" moves the West could make would be to draw up a plan to rebuild the war-torn nation, he said.
Mr Davis said that the charity had told him that "if Assad stood for election tomorrow he would win" because people "are terrified of the alternative".