Macron urges Putin to bring his influence to bear in Syria

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Russia’s Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Friday, with Macron calling on Russia to use its influence to end the conflict in Syria and resume negotiations towards a political transition.

“The president underlined the need to put an end to the military escalation of recent months so as to protect civilian populations,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement, adding that the two leaders had also discussed the need to ensure there is no resurgence of ISIS in the region.

The Elysee said Macron hoped that regular dialogue between France and Russia might allow more concrete progress on finding a solution in Syria.

They were the first bombing raids on Douma since negotiations began around 10 days ago over a withdrawal of rebels and civilians from the town, the largest in Eastern Ghouta.

Backed by Russia, Syrian troops have recaptured 95 percent of Ghouta since February 18 through a combination of a deadly air and ground assault and evacuation deals.

Moscow had announced a deal with Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist faction that holds the town, but hardliners within the group were reportedly refusing to leave their positions.

Syria and Russia had threatened a resumption of their brutal assault if Jaish al-Islam did not agree to the deal.

Syria's state news agency SANA said Syrian air strikes hit the town on Friday in response to rebel mortar fire from Douma that wounded seven people near the capital.

(With AFP)