Senior French sources have told London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is going to stay in power "even if Damascus is completely destroyed". The Arabic daily claims that UN and the Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told Assad during their latest meeting that he has to step down.
"You cannot continue," said Brahimi. "The opposition is able to beat you, but the price will be the destruction of Damascus." In reply, al-Assad told him, "I can win the war even if Damascus is destroyed."
According to the sources in Paris, al-Assad's comments are "dangerous because it means that the war is going to continue and a battle in Damascus will be unavoidable."
Bashar al-Assad's ally Russia sent two aircraft to Beirut on Tuesday to evacuate 100 of its citizens who had already left Syria and crossed into Lebanon to flee from the conflict.