12. What about U.S. allies?
France is on board, but has said it won't act without the United States as a partner. Britain's hamstrung after its lawmakers voted down Prime Minister David Cameron's call for intervention. And NATO's stance is that while the Aug. 21 attack calls for a "firm international response," it won't come from the alliance itself. "It is for individual nations to decide how to react," it says.
13. Who can the U.S. count on?
Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are on board, Kerry says. He expects others to join.
14. What does Syria think about all this?
Al-Assad's been clear: The Middle East is a powder keg; attack Syria and risk a regional war. "Everyone will lose control of the situation when the powder keg explodes," he told the French newspaper Le Figaro. His regime has repeatedly said it didn't use chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack. It says jihadists fighting alongside Syrian rebels used them to turn global sentiment against the regime.
15. Can the international community really afford to wait?
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, says it's fine to wait. A delay won't jeopardize a military strike, he told the president, according to officials.
16. What does the Syrian opposition want?
Opposition groups want action -- now. And with good reason. There's been no pause in the killing: 100,000 and climbing. And on Tuesday, the U.N. refugee agency offered up this grim stat: The number of Syrians who've fled the country has now risen above 2 million. Put another way, every 15 seconds, a Syrian becomes a refugee.
17. How exactly would the U.S. carry out an attack?
No one is calling for boots on the ground. The United States would use U.S. warships with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Tomahawk has a range of about 1,000 miles. It can loiter over targets, circling for hours, and can be reprogrammed midflight to change course. Yes, each costs about $1.2 million, but they can be fired from quite a distance. This means no one has to get within range of Syrian fire.
18. What about civilian deaths?
Dempsey says collateral damage from a strike will be low. But lawmakers say there's no way he could know that.
19. Could Syria strike back?
Syria has some anti-ship missiles -- but they have a range of only 62 to 186 miles, says Edward Hunt, a senior analyst at IHS Jane's. It also has a number of Scuds and similar surface-to-surface weapons, but these are not designed to be used against moving targets such as U.S. warships, Hunt said.
20. What about U.S. military leaders? What do they think?
They have concerns. Dempsey says that even a limited involvement will probably lead to an extended stay. "Deeper involvement is hard to avoid," he wrote to Congress over the summer.