Erdogan vows perpetrators of Syria massacre will pay ‘heavy price’
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Erdogan vows perpetrators of Syria massacre will pay ‘heavy price’

After alleged gas attack in Eastern Ghouta, Turkish president steers clear of directly criticizing Assad, says he talked with Putin

Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during the AK Party's parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on March 20, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / HAKAN GOKTEPE)
Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during the AK Party's parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on March 20, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / HAKAN GOKTEPE)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed those behind the killings of civilians in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta would pay a “heavy price,” after an alleged chemical assault killed dozens.

“I curse those who carried out this massacre. Whoever has done this, the perpetrators will be brought to account and certainly pay a heavy price,” Erdogan told a meeting of his party in parliament.

The Turkish foreign ministry at the weekend said there was a “strong suspicion” that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime was responsible for the attack.

But Erdogan on Tuesday steered clear of criticizing Assad, only noting his telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is the chief ally of the Damascus regime along with Iran.

This image made from video released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a medical worker giving toddlers oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the opposition-held town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, April 8, 2018. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

“I spoke with Putin yesterday (Monday), talks will continue today and tomorrow,” he said.

The Turkish leader on Monday expressed “concern” to Putin over the attacks in Eastern Ghouta, the Turkish presidency said.

Rescue workers said dozens of civilians had been killed in a chlorine gas attack on Douma — claims denied by Assad’s regime and its ally Russia.

Ankara and Moscow have been on the two opposing sides of the war in Syria but despite their differences, both countries have worked closely in recent months for a political solution in Syria.

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