Syrian state media have dismissed as "inaccurate" a report that President Bashar al-Assad told visiting Russian lawmakers he has no intention of giving up power and the issue is not up for discussion.
The conflicting reports come just days ahead of an internationally sponsored peace conference on Syria.
The Russian news agency Interfax had quoted Mr. Assad as saying "if we had wanted to give up, we would have surrendered from the start."
"This issue is not up for discussion," he reportedly said Sunday in remarks translated into Russian.
Syria's government and the opposition are due to participate in peace talks in Switzerland beginning Wednesday, with Mr. Assad's role in Syria's future expected to be a key stumbling block.
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army's Saif al-Umayyad brigade prepare rockets to be launched towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Jan. 16, 2014.
Men ride a motorbike past buildings damaged by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Daraya, Jan. 15, 2014.
Smoke rises from buildings after what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 15, 2014.
Free Syrian Army fighters walk at the Tameko pharmaceutical factory after the FSA claimed to have taken control of the factory, in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Jan. 14, 2014.
A girl carries her belongings as she walks on rubble at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Arbeen, Jan. 14, 2014.
This SANA photo shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking to female preachers from mosques in Damascus and its countryside and educators of religious high schools and institutes in Damascus, Jan. 14, 2014.
Syrian refugees wait to enter Turkey on the Syrian-Turkish border in Shamm Alqrain village, Jan. 13, 2014.
Smoke rises from what activists said were explosive barrels thrown from helicopters on Daria outside Damascus, Jan. 12, 2014.
Damaged buildings are pictured in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 12, 2014.
Residents inspect the damage caused by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant suicide bombers at the Tawhid Brigade and Al-Fateh brigade headquarters in Aleppo, Jan. 12, 2014.
The Geneva 2 meeting aims to create a transitional government with full executive powers.
While few expect the talks will reach this goal, its supporters are hoping the discussions will at least result in increased humanitarian access and local cease-fires to make life easier for Syrian civilians.
The Syrian National Coalition - the country's main political opposition grouping in exile - has agreed to attend the talks. A senior SNC official said its leadership will meet later Sunday in Istanbul to name members of the delegation.
The Coalition was under huge pressure from its Western and Arab sponsors to attend the peace talks and its decision to go was welcomed by the United States, Britain and Russia.
But the SNC has little influence on the ground in Syria and many rebel military units have rejected its authority.
The Syrian government considers all rebel forces to be terrorists, and has tried to shift the focus of the talks from forming a new government to fighting extremism.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.