Syria crisis: Where key countries stand
The Syrian government has admitted it has a chemical weapons stockpile and says it is willing to destroy it under international supervision. The Russian-brokered diplomatic initiative has averted a seemingly imminent military strike by the US and its allies. But what do countries in the region and beyond think about the plan?
Outside the regionUS
On 10 September, US President Barack Obama postponed a Congress vote on military action in Syria, vowing instead to pursue diplomacy to remove the regime's chemical weapons.
His decision was prompted by a Russian proposal on the eve of the vote for Damascus to place its entire chemical weapons stockpile under international control. The Russian initiative came off the back of an apparently off-the-cuff suggestion by the US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has since appeared on Russian TV to voice his support for the plan - but he insisted the move was not the result of the threat of US military action.
The crisis escalated in August over the suspected chemical attack in the Ghouta area of Syria's capital Damascus, which left hundreds dead. Secretary of State John Kerry was the first US official to publicly hold the Syrian government responsible, calling the attack "undeniable" and a "moral obscenity".
President Barack Obama had called on Congress to authorise US military action in Syria in a vote.
Internationally, Mr Obama tried to garner support among leaders at the G20 meeting in St Petersburg. At the summit, he argued action was required even when the UN Security Council was paralysed, as the international consensus against the use of chemical weapons had to be upheld.
Ten members of the G20 joined the US in a joint statement accusing the Syrian government of carrying out the attack and calling for a strong international response against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.UK
The UK is working with the US and France to draft a UN resolution on the Russian plan for Syria's chemical weapons to be put under international control. The three nations want a timetable, and consequences of failure spelt out.
Prior to Russia's diplomatic initiative, a government motion in support of military action in Syria was rejected by MPs in Parliament, forcing the UK to rule itself out of any joint intervention. Prime Minister David Cameron says he still supports military action.
Speaking at the G20 summit, Mr Cameron announced that the UK would give an additional £52m ($80m) in aid for Syria - much of it for medical training and equipment to help civilians targeted by chemical attacks.
The UK was one of 10 members of the G20 to join the US in a joint statement calling for a "strong international response" against the Syrian government.France
France is working with the US and UK to table a UN resolution on the Russian plan. However there remain serious divisions, particularly with Russia.
France had previously backed the US plan for military action, and was the only country other than the US to commit to using force.
French MPs have held a debate on the issue in the French National Assembly. However, they did not vote on the matter and the country's president can mobilise the military without their backing. President Francois Hollande called for Europe to unite on the issue, but said he would wait for the US Congress vote and a UN report on chemical weapons before any military action.
France has been amongst the most hawkish Western countries, being the first to recognise the main opposition coalition as the Syrian people's legitimate representative. In May, France, along with the UK, successfully lobbied for the EU's arms embargo to be lifted so as to allow further supplies to the rebels.
France also signed the joint statement of the group of G20 countries calling for a "strong international response" to the Syrian government.Russia
Russia announced its proposal for dealing with the escalating chemical weapons crisis on 9 September, as the US Congress was preparing to vote on whether to back President Barack Obama's moves to strike Syria.
Mr Putin has described the plan as "a new opportunity to avoid military action".
Russia is one of Mr Assad's most important international backers and has warned the US and its allies against taking one-sided action against Syria.
In an opinion piece published by the New York Times, President Vladimir Putin said "a strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism".
On 4 September, Mr Putin said he did not "exclude" the possibility of Russia supporting a UN Security Council resolution authorising force if it was proved "beyond doubt" that Mr Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.
Russian officials maintain the Syrian rebel forces were behind the chemical weapon attack, describing it as "a provocation on the part of the militants who are expecting to get support from outside".China
China has joined Russia in blocking resolutions critical of Syria at the UN Security Council. It has also criticised the prospect of strikes against Syria.
The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, said Western powers were rushing to conclusions about who might have used chemical weapons in Syria before UN inspectors had completed their investigation.
Alongside Russia, China insists any military action without UN approval would be illegal.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping reportedly tried unsuccessfully to dissuade US President Barack Obama from military action at the G20 meeting in Russia.Germany
Berlin has ruled itself out of participation in any military action. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told a German newspaper that "such participation has not been sought nor is it being considered by us".
Germany has said in the past that proof of the use of chemical weapons by the government of Bashar al-Assad would demand "consequences" but has not set out what those consequences should be.
On 6 September, Foreign Minister Westerwelle urged the United Nations "to speed up" its publication of a report into chemical weapons use in Damascus. He said he wants the UN Security Council to take a unified position.
Inside the regionTurkey
The Turkish government has been one of the most vocal critics of Syrian President Assad since early on in the uprising. Turkey's parliament authorised cross-border action in October 2012 following shellfire from Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkey's Milliyet newspaper that the country was ready to join an international coalition for action against Syria even in the absence of agreement at the UN Security Council.
Turkey was one of 10 members of the G20 to join the US in a joint statement calling for a "strong international response" against the Syrian government. Turkey has put its troops on alert to guard against "threats from Syria".Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has been a rival of the Syrian government for years and has been particularly active in pushing for action against Mr Assad.
At a meeting of the Arab League on 1 September, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal called for "all legal means possible" to be used to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
Saudi Arabia also signed the joint statement at the G20 calling for a "strong international response" against the Syrian government. On Sunday, Mr Kerry said Saudi Arabia "supported the strike and they support taking action".Qatar
Thought to be one of the main suppliers of weapons to Syrian rebels, Qatar has expressed support for the proposed US strike on Syria. The Qatari foreign minister told the BBC on 3 September that outside military intervention had become a necessity to protect the Syrian people.
"We wouldn't have hoped for military intervention, for sure, but it's become a necessity now with the regime did not leave any chance for a solution after using weapons of mass destruction. This is the so-called 'lesser of two evils'," he said.Israel
The Israeli government has refrained from commenting publicly on whether or not it supports US strikes on Syria, wanting to avoid being connected to such action should it take place. Any backing by Israel could be seen in the Arab world as evidence of collusion in US decision-making, and turn public opinion in the region against military intervention. Israel also wants to avoid giving reason to Hezbollah, Syria's and Iran's militant Shia Islamist ally in Lebanon, to attack it, ostensibly in retaliation for a US strike on Syria.
Israel sees the US approach to a possible strike on Syria as a sign of how far it will go to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. There is great concern in Israel that President Obama's decision to seek authorisation from Congress will be perceived in the region as a sign of weakness, especially by Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Damascus and its allies against trying to draw Israel into the Syrian conflict, saying on 27 August: "We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we detect any attempt to harm us we will respond, and do so powerfully."Lebanon
There is deep division in the country between supporters and opponents of President Assad.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour told Lebanese radio that he did not support the idea of strikes on Syria, saying: "I don't think this action would serve peace, stability and security in the region."
Two bomb attacks which killed almost 60 people in Lebanon in August were linked to tensions over the Syrian conflict. Hezbollah has openly taken part in combat in Syria on the side of the government, and there have been reports of some in the Sunni community fighting on the side of the rebels. In addition, the country is already playing host to the largest number of Syrian refugees of any country.Jordan
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said on 4 September that Jordan would back limited military action if it was proved that chemical weapons had been used in Syria and it had been approved by the US Congress.
Mr Ensour told the BBC that international law on the use of chemical weapons was very clear, and expressed hope that an agreement between nations would soon be reached.
"If there is proof, proof that is very clear, how can the UN Security Council hinder any measures? That will be very, very difficult to justify."
But he said any action must be "limited" and target Syria's chemical weapons' capabilities without causing civilian casualties, adding: "If the strikes are not surgical, and not exact and not very well contained, then it will be very dangerous and very risky."
Jordan is currently home to half a million Syrian refugees. The government has called for a political solution to its neighbour's conflict, but is also believed to have facilitated the supply of weapons to rebel fighters in southern Syria in early 2013.Iran
Iran has been Syria's main backer in the region since well before the current conflict and has been highly critical of any prospect of intervention.
It has warned a top UN official visiting Tehran of "serious consequences" of any military action.
Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi also repeated claims that it was in fact rebels who used chemical weapons, the AFP news agency reports.
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javed Zarif warned US intervention in Syria risked sparking a regional war.Iraq
Iraq has not been as critical of Syria as some other Arab countries and will also be concerned at the effect that any escalation in Syria could have on increasing sectarian violence.
"We have been against any military action, and we are hoping for a peaceful political solution to the crisis," said Ali al-Musawi, media adviser to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
But on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javed Zarif said Iran had won Iraqi support for its efforts to oppose US military action in Syria - during a visit to Baghdad, his first visit abroad since being appointed last month.Egypt
Egypt's military-backed interim government has come out strongly against a US strike on Syria, saying it rejects any such action without the authorisation of the UN.
Ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi took a strong stand against Syria, cutting off relations and calling for a no-fly zone, but the military has been more circumspect. It rejects international intervention and is wary of giving any advantage to Islamist rebel groups. Egyptian public opinion - among both supporters and opponents of Mr Morsi - is also firmly against US military intervention in an Arab country.