Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain would not participate militarily in any strike against Syria after he lost a parliamentary vote on Thursday on an anodyne motion urging an international response by 13 votes.
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 Bashar al-Assad for allegedly 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 by 285 votes to 272.