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UN Says Civil War Has Cost Syria $388B In Damage

Destruction is seen following a reported Russian air strike in the district of Jisr al-Shughur, in the Idlib province, September 25, 2017

A United Nations agency says Syria's seven-year-long civil war has cost the country $388 billion in economic damage.

The U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) says it estimates the cost of the material destruction — damage to roads, infrastructure, homes and other physical objects — is $120 billion.

It says the cost of lost productivity — or losses to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) — is $268 billion.

As most of Syria comes under government control, the issue of dealing with humanitarian needs and reconstruction come into focus.

The agency convened a two-day conference in Beirut on of Syrian and international experts to discuss Syria's reconstruction on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Monitoring groups say at least 400,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war. More than 11 million others — or half of Syria's pre-war population — have been displaced from their homes, according to the U.N., including more than 5 million who have been made refugees abroad.

President Bashar Assad's forces continue to press their battles against rebels and Islamic State group insurgents in pockets around northwest and south Syria while refusing a U.N.-mediated political settlement to end the war.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Friday with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and discussed the situation in Syria, RIA news agency cited the Kremlin as saying.

The presidents discussed humanitarian aid to the war-torn Middle Eastern country, the Kremlin was cited as saying. There is no word if France was asked to render any assistance.

Last week it was revealed that Russia made similar overtures to the United States in July.

Reporting by AP and Reuters