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Obama, UN Weigh Syria Response

U.S. President Barack Obama says he has not decided on how to respond to the chemical weapons attack in Syria, but with his administration convinced the Syrian government is at fault, he vowed that those who break international norms need to be held accountable.

Mr. Obama told PBS television's NewsHour Wednesday that any military strike would be limited, sending President Bashar al-Assad a message that future chemical weapons attacks would not be tolerated. He said he has no interest in an open-ended conflict in Syria.

The Syrian government has denied carrying out a chemical attack.

On Thursday, White House officials are due to brief members of Congress on intelligence about the attack last week that killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburbs. They plan to later publicly release an unclassified version of the report.

The discussion among U.S. officials comes as the United Nations Security Council considers a British-drafted resolution on possible military action.

Diplomats from the council's five permanent members began talks Wednesday, but the measure is unlikely to advance because of Russian and Chinese opposition to outside intervention.

Those two nations have used their veto power three times since 2011 to block resolutions targeting the Syrian government.

The United States signaled Wednesday it will not let diplomatic paralysis at the U.N. prevent it from responding.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Syria "cannot continue to hide" behind Russia's stance at the U.N., and that the U.S. sees no way forward with Russia opposing "any meaningful action."

Harf said Washington will consult with its allies as it considers its own military strike against Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry Wednesday said U.N. action on Syria would be premature before chemical weapons inspectors in Damascus finish their work.

The U.N. investigators spent Monday and Wednesday collecting samples and conducting interviews at attack sites in the Damascus area.

Syria's U.N. ambassador Bashar Ja'afari repeated Syria's denial that its forces were responsible for the chemical attack. He accused terrorists -- the government's word for the rebels opposed to Mr. Assad -- of using the weapons against Syrian soldiers.

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there is no evidence the Syrian opposition has the capability or even the desire to use chemical weapons. Hague said all the evidence points in one direction. He also accused the U.N. Security Council of failing to shoulder its responsibilities on Syria for the last two years.

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