Aug 292013

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain would not participate militarily in any strike against Syria after he lost a parliamentary vote by 13 votes on Thursday on an anodyne motion urging an international response.

Protesters against military action in Syria gathered outside of Parliament in London on Thursday.

United Nations inspectors prepared to collect samples on Thursday from one of the sites of a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Zamalka.

It was a stunning defeat for a government that had seemed days away from joining the United States and France in a short, punitive cruise-missile attack on the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad for reportedly using chemical weapons against civilians.

Thursday evening’s vote was nonbinding, but in a short statement to Parliament afterward, Mr. Cameron said that he respected the will of Parliament and that it was clear to him that the British people did not want to see military action over Syria. “I get it,” he said.

The government motion was defeated 285 to 272.

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