- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2013

The British government released a memo Thursday laying out a legal justification for military action against Syria for a suspected chemical weapons strike even if the U.N. doesn’t sanction an attack, ramping up the push among Western nations for some kind of retaliatory strike.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s government said international law allows a strike against Syria if there is convincing evidence of humanitarian distress, there is no alternative to military action, and the force is proportionate to the goal.

In this case, British officials said an attack to prevent the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons meets all of those standards.

In the U.S., the White House is preparing to brief key congressional leaders on its own strategy Thursday, even as the intelligence community is still working on its own formal assessment.

A senior administration official said a classified assessment will be given to Congress, and unclassified details will be made public, likely sometime this week.

But, like Britain, the State Department has said it will not await the U.N.’s blessing, but will make its own decisions about whether to retaliate against Syria. A department spokeswoman said Wednesday that with Russia blocking any action in the U.N. Security Council, that
avenue has been exhausted.

The push for action has ramped up over the last week after rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad said they had been attacked by chemical weapons, and they released powerful photos and video of dead children covered in white shrouds, lined shoulder to shoulder, who they said were killed in the attack. The children showed no external signs of wounds.

But news outlets said this week that there are questions about the evidence that chemical weapons were used.

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