Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he is willing to take part in direct talks with representatives of all oppositon groups, Russian news agency Tass reported MP Dmitry Sablin, coordinator of the Duma’s friendship group with the Parliament of Syria, as saying Wednesday. “(Assad) has said Syria is ready for direct talks with opposition representatives, including the armed opposition,” Sablin said following a meeting with the Syrian president. “Assad supports the Astana peace talks,” he added. In the meantime, Syria’s government rejected recent claims by Amnesty International of alleged human rights violations at Saydnaya prison near Damascus, saying the reports are groundless. In a statement to government news agency Sana the justice ministry said that “the news circulating in the media” based on a report released by the international human rights watchdog on Tuesday “is totally unfounded” and “intended to ruin Syria’s international reputation”.