Syria Crisis: US May Act Without Allied Support

President Barack Obama may proceed with military action against Syria even without allied support, US officials have said.
But they stressed no final decision has been made on America's response to the Syrian government's alleged chemical weapons attack, which is said to have killed 1,300 people.
Veto-holding members of the United Nations are at odds over a draft Security Council resolution that would authorise "all necessary force" in response to the alleged gas attack.
The UK's traditional role as America's most reliable military ally was called into question when David Cameron became the first British prime minister in history to be blocked by MPs over the prospect of military action.
A chastened-looking PM, struggling to make himself heard over calls of "resign" from the opposition benches, told them "I get it" as he abandoned hopes of joining any US strike on Syria.
Speaking after the historic defeat, the White House said Mr Obama would decide on a response to chemical weapons use in Syria based on US interests, but that Washington would continue to consult with Britain.
America is mulling whether to strike Syria without UN backing despite some of the more hawkish figures in the US cautioning against military action.
Former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who helped spearhead US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: "There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation."
He said, if anything, the US should be more concerned with Iran.
Earlier, top US officials spoke to key Democrat and Republican politicians for more than 90 minutes in a conference call to explain why they believe the Syrian regime was responsible for the suspected chemical attack.
They have been pressing Mr Obama to provide a legal rationale for military action, and to lay out a firm case linking President Bashar al Assad's forces to the attack.
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, a senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after the briefing that "strong evidence of the Assad regime's continued use of chemical warfare" merited a military response.
It remained to be seen whether any sceptics were swayed by the call, given the expectation that officials would hold back classified information to protect intelligence sources.
"The main thing was that they have no doubt that Assad's forces used chemical weapons," New York Rep Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said after the briefing.
But he said officials did not provide much new evidence of that.
"They said they have (intercepted) some discussions and some indications from a high-level official," he said, and that they possess intelligence showing material being moved in advance of the attack.
France announced that its armed forces "have been put in position to respond" if President Francois Hollande decides on military action.
He does not need French parliamentary approval to launch military action that lasts less than four months.
Moscow and Beijing have both vetoed previous Western efforts to impose UN penalties on Syria.
China has also been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition and meet demands for political change.
Assad, who has denied using chemical weapons, vowed his country "will defend itself against any aggression".
Mr Obama has ruled out putting American forces on the ground in Syria or setting up a no-fly zone over the country.
He said any US response would be limited in scope and aimed solely at punishing Assad for deploying deadly gases, not at regime change.
The most likely military option would be Tomahawk cruise missile strikes from four Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.


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