Washington: Half of Americans are not in favour of a US military strike on Syria while nearly 80 per cent in the war-weary nation believe President Barack Obama should seek congressional nod for it, according to a new poll.
A NBC News poll shows that fifty per cent of Americans believe the US should not intervene in the wake of suspected chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
But the public is more supportive of military action when it is limited to launching cruise missiles from US naval ships, 50 per cent favour that kind of intervention, while 44 per cent oppose it.
Nearly 80 per cent of Americans believe Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria. The two-day survey was conducted as the Obama administration weighs launching strikes against Syria for the alleged use of chemicals weapons in its violent civil war, as well as amid growing demands by US lawmakers that Congress should have a voice in any debate to authorise force.
The Obama administration last night briefed congressional leaders in its effort to make the case for military intervention.
Also yesterday, Britain's parliament rejected a motion urging an international response to the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government. But White House officials told NBC News that the administration was prepared to go it alone.
"As we've said, President Obama's decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States," Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House and National Security Council, said in a statement.
In the new poll, 50 per cent of respondents opposed the US taking military action in response to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons, compared with 42 per cent who support it. And 58 per cent agree with the statement that the use of chemical weapons by any country violates a "red line" that requires a significant US response, including the possibility of military action.
Still, a whopping 79 per cent of respondents, including nearly seven-in-10 Democrats and 90 per cent of Republicans, say the president should be required to receive congressional approval before taking any action. The poll which surveyed 700 adults also finds that only 21 per cent think taking action against the Syrian governmen is in the national interest of the US. By comparison, 33 per cent disagree and 45 percent don't know enough to have an opinion.
And just 27 per cent say that US military force will improve the situation for Syrian civilians, versus 41 per cent who say it would not.