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Striking Syria Still Seems A Question Of When, Not Whether

Posted: August 30, 2013

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From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tom Bowman reports.

The White House is expected to soon release more of the evidence it says it has to support the case that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people. Despite the news that Britain won't be joining in any military action, the Obama administration seems determined to go ahead.

At the White House, President Obama and his advisers continue to work to build support in Congress and among allies for striking Syria.

At the White House, President Obama and his advisers continue to work to build support in Congress and among allies for striking Syria. Jacquelyn Martin

Though Great Britain won't be joining in any military action aimed at Syria, it appears the White House is determined to go ahead — most likely within the next few days and most likely with missile strikes.

We'll be following the news throughout the day and over the weekend. As Friday dawns, here's where things stand:

-- Evidence. The White House is expected to release, perhaps as soon as today, a declassified version of the intelligence it has been giving to members of Congress to support the case that President Bashar Assad's regime last week used chemical weapons to kill several hundred people and wound even more.

On Morning Edition, NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman said it's his understanding that a lot of that evidence "is circumstantial." It includes videos of Syrians who appears to have symptoms you would expect victims of a chemical weapons attack to suffer.

Evidence from "blood, soil and tissue samples" is being collected by U.N. inspectors on the ground in Syria, Tom added. Those inspectors are due to finish up their work and leave Syria on Saturday.

-- Congress. "The opposition to President Obama launching unilateral military operations in Syria exploded on Thursday when dozens of liberal Democrats joined scores of conservative Republicans in warning the administration that any strikes without congressional approval would violate the Constitution," The Hill writes.

And as Politico reports, a 90-minute conference call Thursday night between the White House and Congressional leaders "appears to have done little to change anybody's mind. Members issued statements afterward reiterating their long-held views on Syria."

-- Allies. While the British Parliament has rejected Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to join the U.S. in taking military action, France appears to still be on board. As The Associated Press writes, "President Francois Hollande said his country can go ahead with plans to strike Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons despite the British parliament's failure to endorse military action. He told the newspaper Le Monde that the 'chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished.' "

Meanwhile, the White House has said that while it will continue to consult with the U.K. and other allies, "President Obama's decision-
making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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