By Justin Sink
President Obama met with his national security team to discuss Syria Friday morning at the White House, just hours before Secretary of State John Kerry was expected to publicly address the developing U.S. response.
The meeting comes six days after a similar gathering at the White House, where President Obama ordered his national security team to prepare a declassified report for public release outlining evidence that Syria used chemical weapons.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the intelligence report remained "on track" for release by Friday.
Top administration officials outlined some of that declassified intelligence Thursday evening on a teleconference with congressional leaders, who reported that the administration believed unequivocally that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons in a bombing last week outside Damascus.
CBS News reported earlier this week that the National Security Council unanimously voiced the opinion that a military response was necessary during their meeting last Saturday.
But since then, a number of important American allies have said publicly that they would not join in a joint military strike.
A vote in the British Parliament to authorize military strikes failed by a 272-285 vote on Thursday, effectively eliminating any chance that the U.K. would join in an operation. Earlier Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that his country would not get involved in a military attack.
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino also said Thursday that her country would not join the military action without a United Nations mandate. Russia has said that it would block any attempt to secure a Security Council vote for intervention.
But the White House has said that it would be willing to launch a unilateral strike, if necessary.
"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."