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Improvised mortar shells that are colored are seen inside a box at a weapons factory in Aleppo September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Hamid Khatib
Promising news:
The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on an outline for the identification and seizure of Syrian chemical weapons and said Syria must turn over an accounting of its arsenal within a week.

The agreement will be backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution that could allow for sanctions or other consequences if Syria fails to comply, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said.

It should be noted that:
Syrian rebel commander Gen. Salim Idriss reiterated his rejection of the Russian initiative Saturday, saying that it effectively leaves Assad unpunished for an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus on Aug. 21.

... and that Syria hasn't officially signed on to this agreement, and that controlling or destroying "approximately 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons" is fraught with peril, but for now at least, a new war appears to have been averted.

Read the agreement framework here.

10:11 AM PT: The White House has issued a statement on the deal:

While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done. The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today. And, if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.
Full text of President Obama's statement is below the fold.

I welcome the progress made between the United States and Russia through our talks in Geneva, which represents an important, concrete step toward the goal of moving Syria's chemical weapons under international control so that they may ultimately be destroyed. This framework provides the opportunity for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a transparent, expeditious, and verifiable manner, which could end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but to the region and the world. The international community expects the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments.

While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done. The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today. And, if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.

Following the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons to kill more than 1,000 men, women, and children on August 21, I decided that the United States must take action to deter the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons, degrade their ability to use them, and make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military force, we now have the opportunity to achieve our objectives through diplomacy. I spoke to Secretary Kerry earlier today and thanked him for his tireless and effective efforts on behalf of our nation. I also spoke to Ambassador Samantha Power who will ably lead our follow-on negotiations at the UN Security Council in New York.

The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere. We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children. Today marks an important step towards achieving this goal.

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