More than 1,400 people died, according to U.S. estimates, the latest victims of Syria’s 2½-year-old civil war.
Polls showed relatively little support among Americans for a military strike against Syria, even after the Obama administration’s efforts to argue that punishing the Assad government for violating international norms of warfare was in the security interests of the U.S.
Obama ordered preparations for American airstrikes, but he decided instead to ask for authorization from Congress for military action. Then came the Russian proposal for international control of Syria’s chemical weapons, and Obama asked Congress, already largely opposed to military intervention, to delay a vote.
The deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons also offers the potential for reviving international peace talks to end a civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and sent 2 million refugees fleeing for safety, and now threatens the stability of the entire Mideast.
In Congress, Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who are among Obama’s sharpest foreign policy critics and support greater U.S. assistance for Syria’s rebels, said the agreement will embolden enemies such as Iran.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California credited the president’s “steadfast leadership” for “making significant progress in our efforts to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.”