The Kremlin has denied a report in Britain's Financial Times that President Vladimir Putin asked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign and was rebuffed.
"This did not happen," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on January 22.
The British paper, citing an unnamed Western intelligence source, said Putin sent General Igor Sergun, head of Russia's GRU military intelligence, to Damascus with the request for Assad to step down at the end of last year.
Sergun died unexpectedly on January 3 at the age of 59.
Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax