WASHINGTON (NBC News) -- An NBC News poll released Friday found that an overwhelming majority of Americans, roughly eight in 10, want the president to seek approval from lawmakers before any attack on the Syrian government for its apparent use of chemical weapons.
The poll found that support among Americans is higher for a limited military strike, such as cruise missiles fired from Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea. But half of Americans are opposed to any military attack on Syria.
Obama led a meeting with the National Security Council on Syria on Friday morning at the White House, and Secretary of State John Kerry planned to address reporters later in the day from the State Department.
On Thursday, top Obama administration officials — including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — scrambled to build support for a strike among key members of Congress.
White House officials told NBC News that the administration was prepared for the United States to go it alone. Still, even after a briefing from the administration officials, some members of Congress were unconvinced.
Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif. and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was disappointed that the president himself did not take part in the briefing.
"One of the things that has really bothered me is the president drawing a red line without knowing in his mind what he would do if they crossed the red line," he said, referring to a remark Obama made a year ago about Syria's potential use of chemical weapons.
Other including members of Congress, including Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., emerged from the briefing persuaded, NBC News reported.
In Syria on Friday, the army bombed rebel-held areas of the capital, Damascus, and artillery shelling and large explosions could be heard from the suburbs at late morning. Stores were open, and people were shopping, even amid sounds of blasts.
Correspondent Bill Neely reported that traffic was flowing in the center of the city but people were apprehensive about whether — and when — missiles might rain down on them.
A Syrian official told Neely that officials were expecting a U.S. attack.
"We know its going to come, we just don't know when," Neely quoted the official as saying.
Around 100,000 people are thought to have been killed since the uprising began more than two years ago. Millions have been made homeless.
Meanwhile, United Nations inspectors continued investigating suspected chemical attacks on the country under intense pressure. The White House says it is convinced the forces of President Bashar Assad were behind a recent chemical weapons attacks that killed hundreds, but governments around the world are awaiting the U.N. findings before drawing conclusions.
Late on Thursday, the British parliament rejected a proposal for military action in Syria -- while the White House said it would make its own decision on a possible strike.
Prime Minister David Cameron indicated he won't proceed without parliamentary approval, saying the government "will act accordingly."
"I strongly believe in the need for a tough response in the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons," he said in the aftermath of his defeat.
On Thursday evening, Republican and Democratic said President Obama had more work to do to sell a skeptical Congress and war-weary American public on the wisdom of U.S. military intervention in Syria.
On Friday, the BBC reported it had witnessed the aftermath of an incendiary bomb dropped by a jet plane on a school playground in the province of Aleppo in the north of the country. Scores of children were left with napalm-like burns on their bodies, the BBC reported.
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