Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that chemical weapons were used against Syrian rebels in an attack on the Damascus suburb of al-Jabhat al-Sharqiya, the Kremlin said on Saturday.
Russia’s foreign ministry said that Putin had spoken with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday and that “the Russian side was ready to discuss with him the steps Russia has taken in this regard.”
A statement on the ministry’s website said Kerry had expressed his concern about the alleged attack on Syrian troops near al-Ras al-Asal, which is located on the edge of the city of Hama, and that the United States was concerned about the situation there.
Russia has been supporting the rebels in the fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which it backs militarily.
Russia also is leading a coalition against the Islamic State group, which has seized large swathes of Syria and Iraq.
A statement from the U.N. chemical weapons watchdog said on Thursday that it had concluded that sarin gas was used in the attack on Ghouta in Syria’s capital.
The Syrian government and Russia have been at odds for months over the use of chemical weapons in the country’s civil war, which began with anti-government protests in 2011 and has killed more than 100,000 people.
The U.S. has accused Russia of supplying rebels with sarin nerve agent to help them use it against the Syrian government.