President Barack Obama made his case Tuesday night both for military intervention and diplomacy to address the crisis in Syria, all part of a speech that made international strikes appear less imminent but not an end to the Middle Eastern nation's years of carnage.
Tuesday's developments -- including Syria agreeing to a Russian plan to give up its chemical weapons -- appeared to move the world further away from a more regional war. Yet many roadblocks and pressing questions remain as to what's next for Syria, where the civil war that's left over 100,000 dead continues to rage.
• Obama said Tuesday night that military strikes against Syrian forces would be justified, given the indications he pointed to that the Damascus government planned and then executed a horrific chemical weapons attack on a rebel stronghold that left hundreds dead.
• The U.S. president also referred to positive developments diplomatically -- namely, a Russian-led effort to have Syria hand over its chemical weapons -- that led him to encourage Congress not to vote yet on authorizing military intervention in Syria.
• Immediately after Obama's speech, Syrian state TV reported that the president had urged Congress to postpone any vote on a strike and was focused more on diplomatic efforts to deal with the crisis.
• While previous polls indicated strong opposition to military strikes, a CNN/ORC International survey of speech-watchers conducted immediately after Obama's Tuesday address found that 61% support the president's position of giving more time for diplomatic efforts to work before moving forward with military strikes.
• Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday, before leaving Moscow, that his government is "ready to fully cooperate" with a Russian initiative that would include Damascus joining the Chemical Weapons Convention and turning over its chemical weapons.
"We are ready to disclose the location(s) of chemical weapons, stop manufacturing chemical weapons, also show the locations to representatives from Russia and other countries and the U.N.," Moallem said in his remarks, as translated from Arabic.
• Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the plan to avert an international military strike in Syria by having Syria's government hand over its chemical weapons "will only mean anything if the United States and other nations supporting it tell us that they're giving up their plan to use force against Syria."
The Russian leader added, "You can't really ask Syria, or any other country, to disarm unilaterally while military action against it is being contemplated."
• In a televised speech Tuesday night, President Obama said "the situation (in Syria) profoundly changed on August 21," referring to a chemical weapons attack he blames on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
• With that attack, Syria's government violated the "basic rules" of warfare, Obama said. "The facts cannot be denied," he added. "The question now is what the United States of America (will) do about it."
• The U.S. president accused Syrian forces of preparing for the August 21 attacks, passing out gas masks, then firing rockets into a rebel stronghold outside Damascus.
• "I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria," Obama said. He also vowed not to "pursue an open-ended action" in the war-torn country.
• At the same time, the president insisted "the United States military doesn't do pinpricks" -- a term used often by members of his administration in recent days, addressing concerns that a military strike on Syria would have minimal impact." "Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad," Obama said, "that no other nation can deliver."
• Targeted military strikes against Syria would serve several purposes, including deterring Syria's government from using chemical weapons, making it more difficult for them to do so and making clear to the world that the use of chemical weapons won't be tolerated, Obama said.
• President Barack Obama pointed Tuesday night to "encouraging signs" in diplomatic efforts to address the crisis in Syria, crediting these "in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action." These efforts could include Syria handing over its chemical weapons, a move that Obama said has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without military intervention.
• The United States and its military will "be in position to respond if diplomacy fails" to address the crisis in Syria, Obama said, not ruling out military intervention in the war-torn country.
• Responding to the speech, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus responded with blanket condemnation of Obama's policies, saying "the administration's handling of the U.S. response to Syria has been so haphazard it's disappointed even the president's most ardent supporters."
• Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain -- both of whom have pushed for more U.S. military involvement in Syria -- expressed "regret" that the president "did not speak more forcefully about the need to increase our military assistance to moderate opposition forces" and that he "did not lay out a clearer plan to test the seriousness of the Russian and Syrian proposal to transfer the Assad regime's chemical weapons to international custody."
• The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a left-leaning advocacy group that has been opposed to military action in Syria, focused on Obama's opening the door to diplomacy as "a credible and strategic option," which shows that "public pressure worked."
• Kerry and Lavrov have been appointed by their respective presidents as the point people on the Syrian chemical weapons issue, a senior U.S. administration official said Tuesday. The two diplomats have talked nine times since the August 21 attack in the Damascus area.
• U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will bring a team of experts with him for talks, beginning Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, senior State Department officials said Tuesday. Another U.S. official said this group will include weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons experts from the U.S. military. The Kerry-Lavrov meeting will include several sessions spread across two days, officials said, cautioning that the issue may not be resolved by then.
If and when an accord is reached, it will be included as part of a U.N. Security Council resolution, according to the officials.
• When the two diplomats meet, the Obama administration's position will be that "we need a verifiable process under international control with timelines and modalities worked out with the Russians and through the United Nations," a second senior administration official said.
• Russia will propose a U.N. draft declaration backing an initiative to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Lavrov has told France that its own draft resolution holding the Syrian government responsible for the use of chemical weapons is "unacceptable."
• France is planning to offer a five-point U.N. Security Council resolution, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. The points include condemning the August 21 massacre, having Syria shed light on its weapons of mass destruction and placing them under international control, having international inspections, forcing Syria to face severe consequences if it violates its obligations, and submitting the perpetrators of the August 21 massacre to international justice.
• Putin said the United States and its allies should "pledge to renounce the use of force" as world powers work to deal with the Syrian chemical weapons issue. "It is difficult to make any country -- Syria or any other country in the world -- to unilaterally disarm if there is military action against it under consideration," he told Russian TV on Tuesday.
• French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Obama agreed Tuesday to work together to explore the Russian proposal seriously, a White House official said. The talks will begin in earnest at the United Nations later Tuesday and will include a discussion on a potential U.N. Security Council resolution.
• The opposition Syrian Coalition said Tuesday that the Russian proposal to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control "is a political strategy that aims to stall for more time" and "does not address the issue of accountability for crimes against innocents."
• The Gulf Cooperation Council -- a coalition that consists of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait -- expressed pessimism Tuesday that Russia's proposal on chemical weapons would have a major impact. "All the talks were about one subject, which is chemical weapons," Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said. "But that doesn't stop the spilling of blood, (and it) will not help the Syrian people."
• Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader Al-Halqi said Damascus supports the Russian initiative, Syria state TV reported. The plan "aims to stop the Syrian bloodshed and prevent a war," Al-Halqi said. "Yesterday we held a very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and from his side, there was a proposal for an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And by evening (Monday) we agreed to the Russian initiative," Moallem said. He said Syria had agreed because it would "remove grounds for American aggression."
• Russia said it's working on a plan for Syria to hand over chemical weapons. "We, the Russian side, are currently engaged in the preparation of a workable, clear, specific plan for which -- literally this minute -- we are in contact with the Syrian side," Lavrov said. "We expect to present this plan in the near future and are prepared to refine and work it out with the participation of the U.N. secretary-general, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and with the participation of the members of the Security Council."
• Kerry said Tuesday that Russia's foreign minister is sending along "some interesting observations about the ways in which he thinks we might be able to achieve" having Syria turn over its chemical weapons. Speaking in a Google+ Hangout, Kerry said the fact Syria's president "has been running a highly controlled and very hierarchical process" leads Washington to believe that Syria's government "can control access to these sites."
• China welcomes and supports Russia's proposal to have Syria hand over chemical weapons to international control, the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
• Iran said it welcomes the Russian initiative for Syria "to put a halt to militarism in the region," according to a banner on state-run Press TV's website.