Officials say they will examine a proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control to avoid a military strike.

If the U.S. could win Syria’s agreement to give up its chemical arsenal, that would be a goal worth forgoing a military strike, said Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

“We want to deter and prevent something like this from happening again, and we could do that if they got rid of them,” he said. “As much as I would like to hold people accountable, in the ugly world of international politics, my first goal is to keep more people from dying.”

The international community could still pursue charges against Assad and his generals in connection with the alleged Aug. 21 attack, Lewis said.

But eliminating Syria’s arsenal has been a long-standing goal of U.S. foreign policy. “Syria is the last big chemical weapons holdout,” he said. “It’s really worth doing.”

ALSO:

An insult grows into violence in India; 31 dead

Spreading Internet rumors in China can mean jail time under new rules

Syria backs Russian proposal for regime to hand over chemical weapons

Twitter: @khennessey

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

paul.richter@latimes.com

Ken Dilanian in Washington contributed to this report.