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MPs to quiz Cameron over Syria
David Cameron faces a fresh grilling from MPs over Syria as the US moves closer to military strikes.
The Prime Minister has indicated he will not ask the Commons to vote again on direct action after his humiliating defeat last week. Instead, he has pledged to focus the Government's efforts on supplying humanitarian aid to those affected by the crisis.
However, Downing Street has refused to rule out seeking authorisation to supply weapons to rebels fighting Bashar Assad's regime.
MPs are likely to use the first Prime Minister's Questions session after the summer recess to challenge Mr Cameron on Britain's role if - as looks increasingly certain - the US Congress approves Barack Obama's plans for "limited" military reprisals. On Tuesday the US president secured backing from key Republican figures John Boehner and Eric Cantor.
Appearing before the senate committee on foreign relations, secretary of state John Kerry said Western allies such as Israel and Jordan were "one stiff breeze" away from being hit by any further chemical weapons attacks.
"This is not the time for armchair isolationism," Mr Kerry said. "This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter. Neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence. We have spoken up against unspeakable horror many times in the past. Now we must stand up and act."
Mr Kerry stressed that troops would not be deployed on the ground in Syria, adding that Mr Obama was "not asking America to go to war".
The president will attempt to rally other world leaders in support of US action at the G20 meeting in St Petersburg this week - though he is expected to receive short shrift from his host Vladimir Putin, a long-term backer of Assad. Syria is not on the formal agenda for the summit, but Downing Street has made clear that Mr Cameron expects to take part in discussions on the margins.
Asked about Mr Obama's proposal for "strengthening" the rebels, the premier's spokesman played down the prospect of holding a Commons vote on arming the rebels - but stopped short of ruling it out. "No decision has been made to do that (arm the rebels)," he said. "That has been the position for a very long time." The spokesman said last week's debate and vote "was very specifically a response to the August 21 chemical weapons attack".
On the eve of the G20 summit, Mr Putin warned that Western military action without United Nations backing would be an act of aggression. But he said he "doesn't exclude" Moscow voting in favour of a military response at the Security Council if evidence was produced proving the regime was behind the attack.