From the Times:
Although the officials cautioned that Mr. Obama had not made a final decision, all indications suggest that the strike could occur as soon as United Nations inspectors, who are investigating the Aug. 21 attack that killed hundreds of Syrians, leave the country. They are scheduled to depart Damascus, the capital, on Saturday.
Ahead of the British House of Commons vote, the Obama administration had already signaled they would go without U.K. support in Syria if necessary.
“Britain is important diplomatically, but not required, and not required militarily. The White House could move ahead without the British,” Barry Pavel, a former White House defence official, told The Telegraph.
A spokeswoman for Obama’s national security council said the US would consider its options in the light of the vote. “The US will continue to consult with the UK government — one of our closest allies and friends. As we’ve said, President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.
“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 White House will make the case for limited military action to Congressional leaders on Thursday evening, according to The Times.
Still, if a strike happens, the U.S. won’t be completely alone. The French government announced Thursday their preparations for a possible Syrian operation, although it stopped short of announcing total commitment to intervention.
Senior U.S. officials have maintained any action would be limited in scope — designed to send a message to Assad, but avoid continued military involvement. On Aug. 26, Obama ordered the completion of a report to justify a strike.
The Washington Post lays out the three conditions necessary for such strikes to occur:
…completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability in last week’s alleged chemical attack; ongoing consultation with allies and Congress; and determination of a justification under international law.
The completed intelligence report will be made public Friday, according to a senior administration official speaking to CBS’ Major Garrett.
Tensions between the West and the Assad regime have heated up over the past week, after an alleged chemical weapons attack was perpetrated on Aug. 21. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied being behind the attack, although senior U.S. officials say they have “no doubt” Assad was responsible.
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