Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he does not rule out granting political asylum to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time ally.

In an interview with a German paper, he said political reforms were needed in Syria, including a new constitution.

If the next poll was democratic, Mr Assad would not “have to go anywhere, no matter if he is elected president or not”, Mr Putin said.

But should he lose, Mr Putin said he might give him asylum.

“We granted asylum to Snowden,” he said referring to the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia in 2013. “That was more difficult than it would be to shelter Assad.”

He said the aim in Syria would be to work towards constitutional reform.

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