Obama gets needed support from ally France on Syria strikes

French President François Hollande said he supports taking firm action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, even after the British parliament on Thursday rejected a preliminary vote authorizing military strikes.

Hollande’s stance gives President Obama a much-needed ally as the president tries to rally public and congressional support for a military strike in response to last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

Hollande said that he supports taking “firm” action to punish Assad’s government for the alleged attack, which killed hundreds of civilians, according to reports.

“All the options are on the table. France wants action that is in proportion and firm against the Damascus regime,” he told the daily Le Monde

“There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them. We are ready. We will decide our position in close liaison with our allies.”

Hollande is not limited by the need for parliamentary approval of any intervention in Syria and could act before the parliamentary debate on the issue, scheduled for Wednesday.

The British parliamentary vote on Thursday dealt a setback to the White House and British Prime Minister David Cameron in their efforts to build a coalition ahead of a possible strike.

After the 272-285 vote, the Obama administration said that the president is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on the war-torn country without the assistance of allies.

The White House said it would continue to consult with Britain over an intervention, but that the Parliament's vote would not alter U.S. plans.

"As we’ve said, President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. 

"He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable."

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