The New York Times reports that the White House is bowing to reality: Because Russia will never agree to any UN resolution that calls for the possibility of military action against Syria, the US won't insist on such a clause. (The Russians already have balked at a draft proposal from France that mentions force.) President Obama, however, won't agree to remove the threat of force entirely, as Bashar al-Assad has demanded. The US will keep open the possibility of a military strike on its own, outside the UN, notes the Times. The development comes as John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continue to hash out Moscow's plan to have Syria turn over its chemical weapons.
Though it's conceding on the use of force, the US will push for sanctions or similar penalties against Assad's regime if it fails to abide by the pending deal. Meanwhile, UN inspectors are expected to turn over their report on last month's attack near Damascus to UN chief Ban Ki-moon this weekend, reports Reuters. Today, the secretary-general said he is all but certain that inspectors will conclude what seems to be obvious already—that chemical weapons were indeed used on Aug. 21. But the report isn't expected to weigh in on which side actually used them.