Putin, Macron discuss chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta

Russian president speaks to French counterpart over phone, urges investigation into Douma attack

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) - France and Russia have instructed their defense and foreign ministers to maintain close contact in order to avoid an escalation of the situation in Syria, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, the French and Russian presidents, exchanged views on Syria during a phone conversation, according to a statement published on the Kremlin website.

"The current situation in Syria has aggravated due to the claims about the alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Douma," it added.

Putin urged a thorough investigation and warned against baseless accusations.

"Both sides voiced satisfaction at a decision to send OPCW experts at the invitation of the Syrian government. They discussed specific opportunities for joint Russian-French efforts to help the OPCW mission in its work."

Last Saturday, Assad regime forces struck targets in Eastern Ghouta’s Douma district using a poisonous gas, killing at least 78 people and injuring hundreds more, according to the White Helmets civil defense.

On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 which called for a month-long cease-fire in Syria – especially in Eastern Ghouta -- to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Despite the resolution, the regime and its allies last month launched a major ground offensive backed by Russian air power aimed at capturing opposition-held parts of Eastern Ghouta.

Home to some 400,000 people, the suburb has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years.

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