UK & World News
'Assad To Quit' Claim Denied By Syria
Syrian President Bashar al Assad is ready to leave power in an "orderly way", the Russian ambassador to France has said.
The leader has accepted that he will have to leave power, Alexandre Orlov said on French radio.
Russia and Syria are allies, however the Syrian Information Ministry has dismissed the claims as 'baseless'.
Mr Orlov told the RFI network: "At the Geneva conference, there was a final communique that foresees a transition towards a more democratic system.
"This final communique was accepted by Assad. Assad nominated his representative to lead the negotiations with the opposition for this transition. That means he accepted to leave, but in an orderly way."
The claim came after Hizbollah's Al Manar television announced that Syrian intelligence chief Hisham Bekhtyar died of wounds following a bombing in Damascus on Wednesday.
The blast killed three other top security officials.
Up to 30,000 Syrians have fled into Lebanon over the past 48 hours, the UN refugee agency has said.
"Thousands of Syrians crossed into Lebanon yesterday. Reports vary between 8,500 and 30,000 people having crossed in the past 48 hours," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in Geneva.