17/04/2016 11:32 BST | Updated 18/04/2017 06:12 BST

Syrian President Assad Told MP That Russia's Putin 'Will Not Let Him Lose'

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has told a senior Tory that Russian president Vladimir Putin will not let him "lose".

David Davis said the brutal leader was "polite and courteous" but "sidestepped the barrel bomb issue" when he met a delegation of MPs.

Russia last month announced it would pull its troops out of Syria in a move that surprised Western leaders. 

Mr Davis told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "He said Putin said 'we will not let you lose', which for me was the most important phrase of the entire visit because that actually defines what the outcomes are going to be.

"If the Russians will not let them lose, then there are two possible outcomes, the jihadist victory, which would be a disaster in my view by the way, the jihadist victory is not on the cards. Either a negotiated outcome or a Syrian victory is on the cards."

Protests against the Assad regime flared up during the Arab Spring and escalated into a full-blown civil war that has left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead.

The Syrian president has previously denied using chemical weapons and explosive barrel bombs on civilian neighbourhoods who oppose his rule in the face of overwhelming evidence.

But Mr Davis said he would not make removing Assad "a red line at the moment".

The Tory MP said that one charity had told him "there is nobody that the West would recognise as a moderate" on the ground in Syria.

One of the "most important" moves the West could make would be to draw up a plan to rebuild the war-torn nation, he said. 

Mr Davis said that the charity had told him that "if Assad stood for election tomorrow he would win" because people "are terrified of the alternative".