Russia tells U.S. fight against Syrian militants must be intensified

August 5, 2016 11:08 AM EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov during a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Vientiane, Laos July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday that the fight against extremist groups in Syria must be stepped up because they are using poison gas on civilians.

Lavrov and Kerry discussed the Syria conflict in a phone call, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The two men spoke a day after Moscow sharply criticized U.S. behavior in Syria, accusing Washington of backing rebels who use poison gas against civilians and of killing hundreds in air strikes.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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