Obama ready to move on Syria without allies

The Obama administration said the president is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria without the assistance of allies after the British Parliament rejected a preliminary vote authorizing action.  

The U.S. said it would continue to consult with the UK but that the vote would not alter its 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."


The British Parliament's 272-285 nonbonding vote seems to eliminate the possibility that the United Kingdom will assist in any potential military action undertaken in response to last week's chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus.

“It's clear to me that the British parliament and the British people do not wish to see military action,” Cameron said in a statement.

The lost vote is a major setback for Cameron — and the White House's efforts to build a coalition ahead of a possible strike.

Earlier Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that his country would not get involved in a military attack.

“This is a very big risk and we do support our allies who are contemplating forceful action to deal with this,” Haper said according to The Daily Star. “That said, at the present time the government of Canada has no plans, we have no plans of our own, to have a Canadian military mission.”

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.

“We have been trying to get the U.N. Security Council to be more assertive on Syria even before this incident,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told the Times. “The problem is that the Russians won’t vote for any accountability.”

The newspaper also reported that the intelligence that the White House will present to congressional leaders Thursday night does not directly tie President Bashar Assad to last week's chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus. But the administration believes the compiled intelligence is convincing enough that it could justify a limited strike aimed at deterring the Syrian military from using chemical weapons again.

The stunning vote in the British Parliament came just hours after White House spokesman Josh Earnest thanked senior leaders there for their “strong words” following the alleged chemical weapons attack.

“You've heard both the prime minister and the foreign secretary articulate their strong objection and condemnation of the use of chemical weapons,” Earnest said. “We've heard them talk about their desire to see the Assad regime be held accountable for its actions in carrying out this chemical weapons attack.”

But Earnest also noted that British Foreign Secretary William Hague had noted that the United States was “able to make their own decisions” about whether to intervene.

“We will remain closely coordinated with them and in close in touch with them, as we are every day,” Hague said Wednesday. “I speak to my counterpart Secretary Kerry every day and have done so this evening.” 

This story was posted at 6:01 p.m. and updated at 6:50 p.m.