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NY Democrat: 'We will have allies' if US strikes Syria

Aug. 30, 2013 at 7:59 AM ET

The United States will get backing from other nations if it launches a military strike against Syria, despite Britain’s vote against support, a lawmaker on a key congressional panel said Friday.

“I don’t think it will be unilateral. I think we will have allies there,” said New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I don’t know (which nations), but there will be others joining,” he told TODAY's Matt Lauer.

On Thursday, the British Parliament rejected a proposal for military action in Syria. That sets up President Obama to launch a solo American attack against the civil war-torn nation as punishment for reportedly using chemical weapons against its citizens.

A new NBC News poll shows the nation is split over the the decision to use force against Syria. Fifty percent of those polled said they were against U.S. military intervention, while 42 percent said they favored it. The poll also found that 79 percent believe Obama should seek congressional approval before using force, while 16 percent said he should not.

The Obama administration held a conference call with key congressional lawmakers late Thursday to discuss the matter and Engel said White House officials and U.S. intelligence believe "100 percent” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the chemical attacks.

“If we stand idly by, then every despot in the world thinks they can commit war crimes and no one will do anything,” Engel said.

Despite Britain’s vote, Obama will continue to act in the best interest of Americans.

“What a Parliament does of another country will have no effect on what we do," he said. "The United States has to stand for something, and I think we stand for the fact that civilians and children should not be gassed.”

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