In December 2015, president Vladimir Putin sent Colonel-General Igor Sergun, the man in charge of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Russia’s General Staff (known as the GRU) since 2011, to Damascus on a mission.
The top brasser was to tell Syria’s Bashar al-Assad that, in the Kremlin’s opinion, ‘it was time for him to step aside’, The Financial Times reports with reference to senior western intelligence officials.
According to the influential newspaper, Mr Assad ‘angrily refused’. He also made clear to the messenger that there could be no future for Russia in Syria unless he remained as president.
As Belsat.eu reported before, Igor Sergun unexpectedly died in early January at the age of 58. The cause of death is classified.