The Russian Foreign Ministry denied a Saudi Arabian newspaper report on Tuesday that cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying Syrian President Bashar Assad was ready to step down, state-run news agency RIA reported.
"Mikhail Bogdanov gave no interview to the Saudi newspaper al-Watan," RIA cited an unnamed source in the Foreign Ministry's press department as saying.
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Saudi newspaper al-Watan quoted Bogdanov as saying that Bashar Assad is ready to step down and that his brother Maher lost both his legs in the Damascus bombing last month which killed three top Syrian officials.
As commander of the Syrian army's fourth division, Maher Assad oversaw the brutal campaign against the rebels. The Russian official said he is still fighting for his life.
"You know we don't wish to be in a non-neutral position or stand against one of the sides in the conflict," Bogdanov is quoted as saying. "We are pushing for an immediate cessation of violence by both sides."
The Russian official said that the attack in Damascus shook the Syrian leadership and exacerbated the state of security in the country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Bogdanov had not given an interview to the paper by phone or in person.
The newspaper did not say when the interview took place and the only direct quotes it attributed to Bogdanov were on the subject of Russia's position on the crisis.
The Russian Foreign Ministry declined immediate comment to Reuters, asking for a written request.
The July 18 attack killed Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, Syrian Defense Minister Dawoud Rajih and General Hassan Turkmani.
Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army said he has detained a member of Hezbollah who entered Syrian together with a group of 1,500 activists. Al-Arabiya published a video showing Hassan Salim al-Mkdad denying her infiltrated Syria illegally. Hezbollah denied the report.
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