(WASHINGTONPOST) — MOSCOW — The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday said it welcomed a Russian proposal to avert U.S. military strikes by having Damascus turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors.

The statement by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Moscow offered the first indication that a diplomatic solution may be possible to the international standoff that has evolved since apparent chemical weapons attacks on rebel-held suburbs outside Damascus on August 21.

The attacks, which killed more than 1,400 civilians, brought world-wide condemnation, and vows of military action by President Obama, who had previously described the use of such banned weapons as a “red line.” But Russia, which is Syria’s chief patron, blocked efforts to generate a response by the U.N. Security Council, and the United States has struggled to build support for unilateral military strikes.

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