* Iranian minister sees no change in Russia's Syria stance
* Dismisses suggestion Assad is about to fall
MOSCOW Dec 18 Iran does not believe Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad and his government are about to fall,
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on
Asked after talks in Moscow about Western suggestions that
Assad and his government might soon be ousted, he told Reuters
through a translator: "We have serious doubts about that. The
Syrian army and the state machine are working smoothly."
Like Russia, Iran has been a staunch ally of Assad
throughout the 21-month uprising against his rule.
The minister dismissed suggestions that Moscow had altered
its stance on Syria, despite remarks by a senior Russian
diplomat last week acknowledging that Assad's opponents could
win the conflict.
"During our talks with our Russian partners, we have found
there has been no change in the Russian position on Syria," he
told a news conference.
Russia has shielded Assad's government from U.N. Security
Council censure and sanctions, resisting Western pressure to
join efforts to push him from power.