US due to release Syrian intelligence report
Washington is expected to release an intelligence report on the chemical attack in Syria.
WASHINGTON, DC - The White House is expected on Friday to release an unclassified version of an intelligence assessment of the chemical weapons attack last week in Syria.
The report may give more insight into why President Barack Obama has said that his officials have concluded that the Bashar al-Assad government is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb.
Obama administration officials shared some of the evidence with lawmakers on Thursday and cited intercepted communications from Syrian officials among other details.
Obama and his officials are weighing the options on how to respond to the attack, including a possible missile strike.
The US President has said he does not want to get drawn into a protracted conflict, but wants to ensure that chemical weapons are not used again.
There were no immediate details on the time of the release of the intelligence report.
Meanwhile, France has said it still backs action to punish al-Assad's government for the attack, despite a British parliamentary vote against action on Thursday.
French President Francois Hollande told the daily Le Monde newspaper that he still supported taking "firm" punitive action over an attack he said had caused "irreparable" harm to the Syrian people, adding that he would work closely with France's allies.
Asked if France could take action without Britain, Hollande replied, "Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France."
The British parliamentary defeat of the government motion on Syria has set back US-led efforts to take military action against Damascus.
Russia fiercely opposes any such action, backing the assertions of Damascus that Syrian rebels were behind the chemical attacks. Putin's senior foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said the British vote reflected majority opinion in Europe. "People are beginning to understand how dangerous such scenarios are," Ushakov told reporters.
An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close al-Assad ally, seized on the British 'no' vote as evidence that "people are beginning to understand" the dangers of military action.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said his country would keep seeking an international coalition to act tog
"It is the goal of President Obama and our government ... whatever decision is taken, that it be an international collaboration and effort," he said.
Any military strike looks likely to be delayed at least until United Nations investigators report back after leaving Syria on Saturday.