- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lawmakers from both parties on Sunday showed guarded optimism for a deal struck by U.S. and Russian officials to put chemical weapons inspectors in Syria by November, with destruction of the Assad regime’s stockpiles set for next year.

Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican, said it was a “step forward” but it is not time for the White House to boast, given the circuitous route the deal took after reports of a chemical attack near Damascus on Aug. 21.

“I would caution this administration not to do a victory lap here,” Mr. McCaul told “Fox News Sunday.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, told the program there are, at least, clear benchmarks on the calendar for carrying out the deal. He said President Obama’s early threat of force was a key catalyst for the diplomatic deal.

“That’s what brought the Russians to the table. That’s what brought Assad to the table,” he told Fox.

Mr. McCaul said Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a key player in carrying out the deal, since he has leverage over Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“He owns this now,” Mr. McCaul said.

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