Major Diplomatic Breakthrough Reached Over Syria

Updated: 09/14/2013 6:23 PM By: Beth McDonough

There's a diplomatic breakthrough to secure and destroy Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons.

The deal avoids U.S. military action for now. But, it also requires one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history.

The agreement lays out a framework of what needs to be done, and by when. The dates on the calendar will be watched as closely as the alleged chemical weapons. 

The first deadline is Sept. 21. That's when Syria must hand over an inventory of its arsenal and say where it's stored. 

It's believed the Assad regime controls 45 sites, with blister agents, mustard gas and some of the same nerve agents that exploded in Syrian neighborhoods last month killing more than 1,400 people. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced, "The U.S. and Russia are committed to the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in the soonest and safest manner."

By November, International inspectors will be on the ground to identify, secure and remove weapons by mid-2014. Because of that, all eyes are now on Syria's President, according to U of M political expert Larry Jacobs, "we will see if Assad is serious about this, if he's not game on. President Obama and republican supporters in Congress, they've given peace a chance, this is Assad's chance."

The agreement worked out half-way around the world between the U.S. and Russia, got the attention of anti-war protestors here in Minneapolis. 

Demonstrators waved posters, making their presence and opinions known at this busy intersection near Lake and Hiawatha, "it's not over, the U.S. is still making threats against Syria essentially," says Sarah Martin with Minnesota Peace Action Coalition.

President Obama reiterated that military action against Syria hasn't been ruled out.