LONDON - British lawmakers rejected their government's call for punitive military strikes against the chemical-armed Syrian regime Thursday, leaving the United States to act alone.
Before and after the shock House of Commons vote to defy Prime Minister David Cameron's bid to win support for military intervention, the White House said America was ready to take unilateral action.
"We have seen the result of the Parliament vote in the UK tonight," said Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman.
"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 decision also came after the failure of an improbable eleventh-hour effort by British diplomats to win UN backing for action against Bashar al-Assad's regime at a meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council.
"It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly," Cameron said.
That, combined with deadlock at the United Nations, appeared to effectively sound the death knell for the idea of a broad-based Western military coalition, although other American allies might still participate.
But even before the surprise British vote, the White House had signalled that it was ready to act regardless of UN or allied support.