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Obama maintains pressure on Syria as Russia spearheads alternative

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Obama maintains pressure on Syria as Russia spearheads alternative

US President Barack Obama continued his campaign for a military strike on Syria in the hours leading up to his public address. Russia’s bid to diffuse the likelihood of a US-led threat gained momentum Tuesday, shifting the debate back to the United Nations Security Council. Russia’s initiative calls for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international authorities in order to diminish the likelihood of another chemical attack. More than 1,000 civilians were reportedly killed last month after a chemical weapons bombardment hit the Ghouta suburbs surrounding Damascus.

Secretary of State John Kerry told a committee of the US House of Representatives Russia’s proposal, which entails chemical disarmament, was the ideal way to move forward. According to Kerry, removing the weapons is “the ultimate way to degrade and deter” the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Kerry has been one of the most vocal proponents of a US-led strike on the Syrian regime.

According to several reports, Syria has embraced Russia’s proposal. However, speculation about how Syria would go about disarming its chemical weapons arsenal surfaced after Russia balked at France’s attempt to enforce the agreement with a UN Security Council Resolution.

On Wednesday a reluctant Congress will vote on authorizing a military strike on Syria. A bipartisan group of senators is reportedly putting together a proposal that would authorize UN inspectors to recover chemical weapons from the Syrian regime. A failure to comply with the mandate would give President Obama authority to pursue military action.

The markets responded positively to the Russia-led initiative, extending their gains for a second straight day. On Monday the Dow Jones Industrial Average was back above 15,000 for the first time since August 20. The Dow closed more than 0.8 percent higher Tuesday, having advanced more than 2.4 percent over the previous five days.

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