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PM urges 'robust' Syria response
David Cameron insisted a "robust response" is needed to Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons despite being forced to drop plans for the potential use of British forces in strikes against Syria.
The Prime Minister suffered a humiliating defeat in the Commons as MPs - including 30 Tory rebels - rejected a motion indicating that military action could be required to protect Syrian civilians.
Mr Cameron acknowledged that "politics is difficult" after the reverse but said he would not have to apologise to US president Barack Obama for being unable to commit UK military units to any international alliance.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Government should not "wash its hands" of Syria despite the lack of consensus for military action.
Setting out the approach he would now take to Syria the Prime Minister said: "I think it's important we have a robust response to the use of chemical weapons and there are a series of things we will continue to do. We will continue to take a case to the United Nations, we will continue to work in all the organisations we are members of - whether the EU, or Nato, or the G8 or the G20 - to condemn what's happened in Syria. It's important we uphold the international taboo on the use of chemical weapons.
"But one thing that was proposed, the potential - only after another vote - involvement of the British military in any action, that won't be happening. That won't be happening because the British Parliament, reflecting the great scepticism of the British people about any involvement in the Middle East, and I understand that, that part of it won't be going ahead."
Mr Miliband's decision to oppose the Prime Minister's motion on Syria despite Mr Cameron offering concessions including the prospect of a second vote authorising direct British military involvement sparked fury in No 10 and led to accusations he was providing "succour" to Assad.
Asked if Mr Miliband had behaved "dishonourably", the Prime Minister said: "It's a matter for him to defend the way he behaved and his conduct."
The Labour leader said Mr Cameron must now "find other ways" to put pressure on Assad. "There are other routes than military means to actually help the people of Syria," he said.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he was "slightly apprehensive" about US forces taking action without UK backup and said the British military would find it difficult to watch the French taking their place. He told Channel 4 News: "Seeing the Americans working with the French while we stand and watch will not be a comfortable place."