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Editorial: Russia holds cards in Syria conflict

A devastated street in the Salaheddine district of

A devastated street in the Salaheddine district of the northern city of Aleppo. (Aug. 22, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

A day after an alleged chemical attack in Syria, the State Department announced plans to meet with Russian diplomats at The Hague this Wednesday to discuss ending the slaughter.

The meeting will come as the United States contemplates a military response to the atrocity. Photos released last week show no visible injuries on scores of dead Syrians, raising the possibility of the use of poisonous gas.

Russia is one of president Bashar Assad's staunchest advocates, but it joined the international community in urging the Syrian government to allow UN inspectors in Damascus to examine the bodies. That could grease the wheels for the State Department officials meeting Russian diplomats on Wednesday. If a political resolution to the conflict is still possible, it will likely go through Moscow. The United States must persuade Russia to join forces and try to broker a peace deal.