MOSCOW - Facing weak support for U.S. military action, President Barack Obama said that a plan suggested by Russia to have Syria hand over its chemical arsenal to international control could avert American strikes "if it's real."
Syria's prime minister said Damascus supports the Russian initiative. Will Moscow's proposal delay an Obama strike? And how can Obama sway Americans to support military action? Obama's remarks in his televised address to the nation at 9 p.m. Tuesday will be crucial.
• Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader Al-Halqi said Damascus supports a Russian initiative to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control, Syria state TV reported. The plan "aims to stop the Syrian bloodshed and prevent a war," Al-Halqi said.
• Human Rights Watch said, "Available evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government forces were responsible for chemical weapons attacks on two Damascus suburbs" on August 21.
• 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," Foreign Minister Sergey 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."
• Syria has accepted Russia's proposal to place the country's chemical weapons under international control, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.
"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."
• 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.
• 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.
• France will go to the Security Council on Tuesday with its proposal for Syria to hand over and destroy its chemical weapons, Fabius said. He said France will not accept "delaying tactics."
• There are consultations with France and others about how to move quickly at the United Nations to test whether Russia and Syria are serious about the initiative to place chemical weapons under international control, a senior U.S. administration official said.
U.S. Congress and government
• On CNN's "New Day," Sen. John McCain upbraided the Obama administration's discussions of Syria. "There's a degree of incoherence that I have never seen the likes of," the Arizona Republican said. He noted that Secretary of State John Kerry said any strike on Syria would be "unbelievably small." "What does that mean?" McCain asked. "We still haven't determined what the goal of these military strikes are."
• Obama will go to the Hill to make his case to Senate Democrats, a Senate leadership aide told CNN. Making sure to hit both sides of the aisle, the president also will attend the Senate GOP lunch, a Senate Republican aide said.
• The House Armed Services Committee hosts three of the administration's big guns beginning Tuesday morning: Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
• Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will talk about Syria at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia ahead of the president's national address.
American public opinion
• A new national poll suggests that as Obama prepares to tell a skeptical American public why the United States should take military action against Syria, he's partly to blame for the box into which he's put himself.
• The CNN/ORC International poll indicates that Americans are divided evenly on whether Obama is a strong leader as well as whether he's honest and trustworthy.
• The poll also found that one in five said they completely understand Obama's Syria policy. A little more than half said they "somewhat" understand the administration's game plan, and about three in 10 said they are not clear about