The Latest: French, Russian presidents discuss Syria in call

Sergey Lavrov
The Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on Syria developments (all times local):

4:05 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep concerns” over the deterioration of the situation in Syria in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to a statement of the French presidency, Macron calls for dialogue between France and Russia to “continue and intensify” to bring peace and stability to Syria.

He “regretted” the Russian veto at the U.N. Security Council which prevented a “united and firm response” after a suspected gas attack last week in Douma, Syria.

Macron said Thursday on French national television France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and has crossed a line that could prompt French airstrikes.

The U.S., France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike in Syria.

___

3:30 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has urged calm and efforts to restitute peace in Syria during separate calls this week with U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan also told reporters on Friday that tensions between the two countries over a suspected chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma now seem to have eased.

Erdogan says: “What we insisted on tenaciously was the fact that is not right for tensions to heat up; we made requests concerning the restitution of peace and the end of the tragedy that is going on.”

The Turkish leader also said he sent video recordings concerning the “painful and disastrous scenes” in eastern Ghouta and Douma to Putin through an envoy of the Russian leader. Erdogan did not elaborate.

___

3:20 p.m.

France’s foreign minister has cancelled trips to Albania and Slovenia because of rising global tensions around Syria.

The move Friday came as the U.S., France and Britain are in extensive consultations about launching a military strike on Syria in retaliation for suspected chemical weapons attacks.

Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said in a statement to the official STA news agency that “due to the Syria crisis,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian cancelled his planned visit to Slovenia on Friday and Saturday.

Albania’s Foreign Ministry said Le Drian canceled a trip there planned Friday “due to international developments in the security field.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday he has proof that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was behind chlorine attacks in recent days. Syria’s government denies responsibility.

___

2:35 p.m.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says the use of chemical weapon against civilians in a Damascus suburb is “unforgivable” but says Turkey is urging all sides to refrain from actions that will cause further turmoil in Syria.

Yildirim on Friday again condemned the “heinous” the attack in Douma and said the perpetrators should “pay a price.”

“However … any action that would lead to the failure or harm activities led by Turkey, Iran and Russia toward a lasting peace should be avoided,” Yildirim said. He was referring to the three countries’ efforts to reduce violence in Syria.

Syrian opposition activists and medics say a suspected gas attack last week killed more than 40 people in Douma. The Syrian government has denied the allegations.

___

1:35 p.m.

Russia’s foreign minister has asserted that a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma last weekend was fabricated with the help of an unspecified foreign intelligence agency.

Sergey Lavrov says Russian experts have inspected the site of the alleged attack in Douma, just east of Damascus, and found no trace of chemical weapons. He says Moscow has “irrefutable information that it was another fabrication.”

Lavrov spoke to reporters in Moscow on Friday.

He said that “intelligence agencies of a state that is now striving to spearhead a Russo-phobic campaign were involved in that fabrication.” He didn’t elaborate or name the state.

The attack has drawn international outrage and prompted the United States and its allies to consider a military strike on Syria, something Moscow has strongly warned against.

.