The Latest: France to decide on Syria strike within days

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The Latest: France to decide on Syria strike within days
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, soldiers and residents salute civilians after they were released by the Army of Islam group that had held them since 2013, in Damascus, Syria, early Monday, April 9, 2018. Syrian state media is reporting that dozens of civilians who had been held for years by a rebel group near the capital Damascus have been freed. (SANA via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

France says it will decide in the coming days whether to launch a military strike over a suspected chemical attack in Syria.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday that President Emmanuel Macron would decide whether to launch an attack over the “non-respect of the international convention against chemical weapons,” which is a “red line” for France.

Speaking to reporters in Romania, Le Drian says: “We are very firm…as the president of the Republic said…. this situation can’t be tolerated.”

Asked about consulting the U.S, which has also threatened military action, Le Drian said “France is autonomous in taking its decisions.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack near Damascus that Syrian opposition activists and first responders say killed more than 40 people. Syria has denied carrying out such an attack.

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10 a.m.

The Russian military says the Syrian government is now in full control of town on the outskirts of Damascus that was held by the rebels and that was the site of suspected chemical attack over the weekend.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the situation in the town of Douma, just east of the Syrian capital, is “normalizing.”

More than 13,500 Syrian rebel fighters and their families have left Douma this month under a so-called evacuation deal between the rebels and the Russian military, a top ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

The Russian ministry says 1,500 left the town in the past 24 hours.

There was no immediate confirmation or indication from Assad’s government that Syrian troops entered Douma on Thursday.