The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The U.S. said the attack killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders.
President Barack Obama said he has decided that the United States should take military action against Syria but is seeking congressional authorization for the use of force in a vote expected after Congress returns to work Sept. 9.
Here's a look at key Syria developments around the world Monday amid heightened tensions over potential military action:
Obama will host Sen. John McCain at the White House, hoping his opponent in the 2008 presidential election will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation scarred by more than a decade of war. The Obama administration is trying to rally support for the strike among Americans and their congressman and senators.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the information the U.S. showed Moscow to prove that Syrian regime was behind an alleged chemical weapons attack was "absolutely unconvincing." He said Monday "there was nothing specific" in the evidence: "no geographic coordinates, no names, no proof that the tests were carried out by the professionals." He did not say what tests he was referring to.
The head of the U.N. refugee agency in Syria said 7 million Syrians, or almost one-third of the population, have been displaced by the country's civil war. Tarik Kurdi told The Associated Press on Monday that 5 million of the displaced are still in Syria while about 2 million have fled to neighboring countries.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is scheduled to meet with the leaders of Parliament's defense and foreign affairs committees. The prime minister's office said Ayrault will give the lawmakers an update on Syria and show them a declassified report on Syria's chemical weapons to back up France's claim that the Assad regime was responsible for the attack.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his country urged the U.S. not to take unilateral action against Syria in response to last month's chemical weapons attack against civilians. He said Washington briefed Beijing about the matter and that China is concerned about chemical weapons use but that the country opposes the U.S. acting alone. Hong didn't address the possibility of the U.S. acting together with France's government, which supports a strike, although Beijing would almost certainly be opposed to any action.
Australia offered moral support for a military strike in Syria. Patrick Low, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr's spokesman, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called last week and that Australia supports the U.S. taking action. He said Kerry didn't ask for military assistance and Australia didn't offer it.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said his country needs more information after Kerry reached out for support in a call to New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully over the weekend. Key said New Zealand wants to assess all steps taken ahead of a strike before stating its position.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her challenger in Germany's upcoming election said late Sunday they wouldn't participate in military action against Syria. Merkel said there needs to be "a collective answer by the U.N." to the use of chemical weapons in Syria as she faced center-left rival Peer Steinbrueck in a televised debate. Steinbrueck said he wouldn't participate in military action as chancellor and would "greatly regret it" if the U.S. strikes alone without an international mandate.