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. has said a sarin gas attack killed 1,429 people, including more than 400 children, based on intelligence reports. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information from a network of anti-government activists in Syria, said it has been compiling a list of the names of the dead and that its toll has reached 502.
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 Thursday amid heightened tensions over potential military action:
Syrian government troops battled al-Qaida-linked rebels over a regime-held Christian village in western Syria for the second day, as world leaders gathered in Russia for an economic summit expected to be overshadowed by the prospect of U.S.-led strikes against the Damascus regime. Residents of Maaloula said the militants entered the village late Wednesday. Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, said the fighters included members of the of al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group.
The threat of missiles over the Mediterranean weighed on world leaders meeting on the shores of the Baltic. It was sure to eclipse economic battles that usually dominate when the Group of 20 leading world economies convenes in St. Petersburg. Leaders at the forefront of the geopolitical standoff over Syria's civil war will be in the same room for meetings Thursday and Friday.