British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday it was clear parliament "does not want to see British military action" in Syria after the government suffered a stunning defeat on the issue.

A government motion calling for lawmakers to back military action in principle was defeated 285 to 272, a majority of 13 votes, in the House of Commons.

"It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly," Cameron said after the result was announced.

The defeat will be seen as a severe rebuff for Cameron, who had recalled parliament from its summer recess to vote on the issue.