Secretary of State Kerry said Monday that Syria could avoid a U.S. strike if it turned its chemical weapons over to the international community within a week.
Russia made an official proposal along those lines -- one that the Syrian government seemed interested in.
But the State Department said it's skeptical President Bashar al-Assad's regime would actually go through with the plan.
Meanwhile, the White House is mobilizing a political assault to gain support for a strike. With Congress back at work this week, President Barack Obama is trying to change minds on both Capitol Hill and throughout the country.
If Syria were to turn in all their chemical weapons, does the president walk away unscathed? Seton Motley, president of Less Government, talks about this and more on CBN Newswatch, Sept. 9, following this report.
As Congress returns from its 5-week recess, polls show anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military action in Syria.
"Here's the thing: this administration won't even react when Americans are killed in Benghazi," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Fox News. "They have done absolutely nothing. And so, here is a situation in Syria that doesn't involve Americans and they want to get involved. To me, they've got it backwards."
President Obama sits down with six TV news anchors Monday. He will then address the nation during prime time Tuesday to boost support in Congress for an attack on Assad's chemical weapons.
Kerry was in London, where parliament has already said a resounding "no" to British military involvement.
"It would be good to hear people saying to a dictator, 'Keep your hands off chemical weapons that kill your own people,'" he said.
But opponents on both the left and right are mobilizing against the administration, including ads from the hard left group, MoveOn.org that urged, "Don't lead us down this road again."
Some conservatives would like to punish allies of Assad in non-military ways.
"Number one, there are reports that Iraq is allowing Iran to fly over and re-supply Assad," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said on ABC's "This Week." "I would, right now, cut off Iraq's $500 million in aid unless they cut off air rights."
In an interview with PBS host Charlie Rose set to air this week, Assad denied responsibility for the attacks and pledged to retaliate against Israel if the United States strikes.
"Nobody expected the 11th of September," Assad said. "So you cannot expect... It is difficult for anyone to tell you what is going to happen. It's an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything," Assad said.
In response, the Jewish state has called up its reservists and deployed an Iron Dome missile defense battery on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Western aid workers trying to feed Syria's 2 million refugees say the situation in and beyond Damascus is getting desperate.
"It's getting to a point where if the international community doesn't wake up and realize what they have to do, they must make efforts to find a political solution; otherwise, we are not going to be able to sustain this level of response," Matthew Hollingsworth, with World Food Program, said.
But in more than 30 months, the international community has tried and failed to broker a political solution. Now it appears the Obama administration will go to the mat for some kind of effort at a military answer.