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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 9th, 2013
11:19 PM ET

Sharp turn in argument over U.S. intervention in Syria

There was a sharp turn Monday in the argument over whether the U.S. should target the Syrian regime with limited strikes as punishment for the Assad government allegedly using chemical weapons on its own people.

In less than 24 hours, President Barack Obama will speak directly to the American people. Until Monday, one could reasonably assume he would make the case for military intervention. After all, he did say that's exactly what he wanted to do nine days ago.

But then, Secretary of State John Kerry, on a trip to London, was asked what Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do to stop a U.S. strike.

Kerry said that the Syrian leader "could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that."

Did Kerry extemporaneously hypothesize his way into a different solution? One U.S. official called Kerry's remarks a "major goof," adding that America's top diplomat "clearly went off script."

But then Syria's ally Russia proposed exactly what Kerry suggested, a plan for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons to international control.

Then the Syrians said they'd be open to it.

Americans watched, as the administration seemed to warm to the idea, culminating in the moment Obama sat down in a chair opposite CNN's own Wolf Blitzer, and said Russia's proposal to have Syria hand its chemical arsenal over to international control could avert U.S. strikes "if it's real."

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