(CBS News) DAMASCUS - There was widespread relief in the Syrian capital Wednesday morning that American airstrikes have been averted -- at least for the time being. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that across the Syrian media, both in newspapers and television, credit for that reprieve is going to Russia.
President Obama on Tuesday night told the American public that the threat of a military strike against Syria should stay on the table, but that the U.S. and its allies would to pursue a diplomatic resolution with Assad.
Mr. Obama's remarks came after it was announced that Secretary of State John Kerry was to meet Thursday in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to try and hammer out the basic principles of a deal that would see Syria hand over its chemical weapons stockpiles to international control for destruction.
Mr. Obama said that, givenin principle to such a deal, he had asked the leaders of Congress to postpone their vote on the use of force.
Already there's pressure building for some sort of timetable to be formalized in the United Nations for Syria to begin to make real gestures for turning over its chemical weapons.
But even if a diplomatic agreement were to be reached, Palmer says it's hard to know how it would actually work.
Syria is, after all, in the middle of a widening civil war. It has dozens of chemical weapons sites, some of them mobile. So it is hard to envision how international inspectors could get into the country and to those sites to monitor the decommissioning of what is estimated to be 1,000 tons of chemical weapons.
As explosions were heard in the background, Palmer reported that the fighting with conventional weapons is still raging. It wasn't chemical weapons which killed tens of thousands of people in Syria during the last year -- it was conventional weapons, and they will continue to be used in a war that has spread from one end of the country to the other.