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White House: Russian Prestige On The Line In Syria

Updated: Wednesday, September 11 2013, 03:09 PM CDT

The White House is looking to pin on Russia the success or failure of a diplomatic option to secure Syria's chemical weapons.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says, "Russia is now putting its prestige on the line."

He's declining to put a deadline on the diplomatic efforts, but says bringing Syria's chemical weapons stockpile under international control "obviously will take some time."

Secretary of State John Kerry leaves later today for Geneva, to work on the Russian proposal under which international inspectors would seize and destroy Syria's chemical weapons.

With the public focus on diplomacy rather than a military response to last month's chemical weapons attack in Syria, Vice President Joe Biden and senior White House officials today summoned House Democrats and Republicans for classified briefings. The briefings are a follow-up to President Barack Obama's televised address last night. Obama kept the threat of U.S. airstrikes on the table, and said it was too early to say whether the Russian offer would succeed.

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White House: Russian Prestige On The Line In Syria

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The Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. A part of the larger Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, the conflict began March 15th, 2011 with local demonstrations that grew in scope to become nationwide by April 2011.

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963.

The Syrian Army was deployed in April of 2011 to stop the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of cities and neighborhoods being cut-off by the Army the protests evolved into an armed rebellion.

The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership as a result of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of Syrian political opposition groups, Syria's seat on 6 March 2013.

According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 2 million have fled to other countries.

Syrian government supporters include Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing material and weapons to the rebels.


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