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Most analysts agree that the tide is turning, however slowly, against the regime.

But Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the foreign policy magazine Russia in Global Affairs, said Assad won’t leave without a fight.

Assad realizes that there is no way back for him,” said Lukyanov, a leading Russian foreign policy expert with high-level Foreign Ministry connections. “If he tries to jump the boat, his own supporters will not forgive him for doing that. And if he loses, no one will give him any guarantees.”

Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, Barbara Surk in Beirut, Ian Deitch in Jerusalem, Slobodan Lekic in Brussels and Kimberly Dozier and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.