Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says neither side will win the civil war in Syria, and that China and Russia will be unable to persuade President Bashar al Assad to quit.

Russia has been backtracking after its Middle East envoy was quoted as saying earlier this month that the rebels could defeat Assad's government and that Russia was preparing for a possible evacuation of its nationals.

Lavrov said Russia had rejected requests from countries in the region to pressure Assad to go or offer him safe haven, and that his exit might lead to an upsurge in fighting.

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