LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron has lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes, a stunning defeat for a government which had seemed days away from joining the U.S. in possible attacks to punish Bashar Assad's regime over an alleged chemical weapons attack.
Thursday evening's vote was nonbinding, but in practice the rejection of military strikes means Cameron's hands are tied. In a terse statement to Parliament, Cameron said it was clear to him that the British people did not want to see military action.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Britain's leader said Thursday it is legal and just to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council, arguing that Syria could repeat its alleged use of poison gas if the international community fails to act.
But Prime Minister David Cameron also seemed to slow Britain's movement toward war, telling legislators in the House of Commons that there is still a sliver of uncertainty over who was behind an alleged chemical attack outside Damascus. He added that Britain would not act if it faced major opposition at the U.N.'s top security body.
"I think it would be unthinkable to proceed if there is overwhelming opposition in the Security Council," he said, without going into detail.