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Los Angeles Times: President Obama says Syria deal could help resolve war

Shashank Bengali of the LA Times reports on a diplomatic solution to keep chemical weapons out of Syrian hands in the future:

President Obama defended his handling of the biggest international crisis of his second term so far, saying that a diplomatic deal to seize Syria's chemical arsenal without U.S. military intervention ultimately could help end that country's bitter civil war.

Obama said his threats to use missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's government had created conditions for diplomacy to work.

Until last week, Obama was considering unilateral missile strikes to punish Assad, who the U.S. says fired rockets filled with nerve gas into rebel-held civilian enclaves near Damascus on Aug. 21. But Congress offered little support for military action, and Obama shelved the strikes in favor of diplomacy.

Reaction to the diplomatic deal was mixed in Congress.

"If your goal is to make sure these chemical weapons are never used again, if your goal is to make sure that when the regime falls that, in that chaos, these weapons don't get in the hands of Hezbollah or Al Qaeda, this is about as good a deal as you can get," Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN.

Critics said that the plan represents a win for Russia, Syria's most powerful ally, and is likely to fail because it's unclear what happens if Assad doesn't fully or quickly disarm.

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