UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday night to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, a landmark decision aimed at taking poison gas off the battlefield in the escalating 2 1/2-year conflict.

The vote after two weeks of intense negotiations marked a major breakthrough in the paralysis that has gripped the council since the Syrian uprising began. Russia and China previously vetoed three Western-backed resolutions pressuring President Bashar Assad's regime to end the violence.

"Today's historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote, but he and others stressed that much more needs to be done to stop the fighting that has left more 100,000 dead.

"A red light for one form of weapons does not mean a green light for others," the U.N. chief said. "This is not a license to kill with conventional weapons."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the "strong, enforceable, precedent-setting" resolution shows that diplomacy can be so powerful "that it can peacefully defuse the worst weapons of war."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the resolution does not automatically impose sanctions on Syria. The resolution calls for consequences if Syria fails to comply, but those will depend on the council passing another resolution in the event of non-compliance. That will give Assad ally Russia the means to stop any punishment from being imposed.

As a sign of the broad support for the resolution, all 15 council members signed on as co-sponsors.

For the first time, the council endorsed the roadmap for a political transition in Syria adopted by key nations in June 2012 and called for an international conference to be convened "as soon as possible" to implement it.

Ban said the target date for a new peace conference in Geneva is mid-November.

Whether the council can remain united to press for an end to the conflict remains to be seen.

"We know despite its clear usefulness, one resolution alone will not save Syria," France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said after the vote.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari accused unnamed nations of already giving the resolution a negative interpretation and trying to "derail it from its lofty purposes."

And Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have been harshly critical of Obama's policy on Syria, dismissed the resolution as "another triumph of hope over reality." It "contains no meaningful or immediate enforcement mechanisms, let alone a threat of the use of force for the Assad regime's non-compliance," they said in a statement that was highly skeptical that Russia would ever approve a threat of force for non-compliance.

The vote came just hours after the world's chemical weapons watchdog adopted a U.S.-Russian plan that lays out benchmarks and timelines for cataloguing, quarantining and ultimately destroying Syria's chemical weapons, their precursors and delivery systems.

The Security Council resolution enshrines the plan approved by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, making it legally binding.

The agreement allows the start of a mission to rid Syria's regime of its estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal by mid-2014, significantly accelerating a destruction timetable that often takes years to complete.

Kerry said the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile will begin in November and be completed as called for by the middle of next year.

"We expect to have an advance team on the ground (in Syria) next week," OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan told reporters at the organization's headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands immediately after its 41-member executive council approved the plan.

The OPCW plan gives Damascus a week to provide detailed information on its arsenal, including the name and quantity of all chemicals in its stockpile; the type and quantity of munitions that can be used to fire chemical weapons; and the location of weapons, storage facilities and production facilities. All chemical weapons production and mixing equipment should be destroyed no later than Nov. 1.

The Security Council resolution does not assign blame for any chemical attack. Some Western countries had wanted the draft to demand that the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks be referred to the International Criminal Court to be prosecuted for war crimes. Diplomats said this was discussed, but Russia objected.

As a result, the draft says only that the Security Council "expresses its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable."

The recent flurry of diplomatic activity followed the Aug. 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb, and by President Barack Obama's threat of U.S. strikes in retaliation.

After Kerry said Assad could avert U.S. military action by turning over "every single bit of his chemical weapons" to international control within a week, Russia quickly agreed. Kerry and Lavrov signed an agreement in Geneva on Sept. 13 to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control for later destruction, and Assad's government accepted.

Tough negotiations, primarily between Russia and the United States, followed on how Syria's stockpile would be destroyed.

The U.N. resolution's adoption was assured when the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council – Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain – signed off on the text on Thursday.

Russia and the United States had been at odds over the enforcement issue. Russia opposed any reference to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for military and nonmilitary actions to promote peace and security.

The final resolution states that the Security Council will impose measures under Chapter 7 if Syria fails to comply, but this would require adoption of a second resolution.

It bans Syria from possessing chemical weapons and condemns "in the strongest terms" the use of chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack, and any other use. It also would ban any country from obtaining chemical weapons or the technology or equipment to produce them from Syria.

Kerry stressed that the resolution for the first time makes a determination that "use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security," which sets a new international norm.

The resolution authorizes the U.N. to send an advance team to assist the OPCW's activities in Syria. It asks Secretary-General Ban to submit recommendations to the Security Council within 10 days of the resolution's adoption on the U.N. role in eliminating Syria's chemical weapons program.

"Syria cannot select or reject the inspectors," Kerry said. "Syria must give those inspectors unfettered access to any and all sites and any and all people."

The resolution requires the council to review compliance with the OPCW's plans within 30 days, and every month after that.

In an indication of the enormity of the task ahead, the OPCW appealed for donations to fund the disarmament, saying it will have to hire new weapons inspectors and chemical experts.

To that end, Britain's foreign minister announced after Friday's vote that the UK would donate $3 million to OPCW Syria Trust fund.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Security Council that China was also prepared to help fund the disarmament mission.

Meanwhile, a group of U.N. inspectors already in Syria investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons said Friday they are probing a total of seven suspected attacks, including in the Damascus suburb where hundreds were killed last month. That number was raised from three sites previously.

The OPCW destruction plan calls on Syria to give inspectors unfettered access to any site suspected of chemical weapons involvement, even if Syria's government did not identify the location. That gives the inspectors unusually broad authority.

___

Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Amir Bibawy at the United Nations and Albert Aji in Damascus contributed to this report.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises from buildings due to heavy artillery shelling in Barzeh, a district of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

  • In this frame grab from video taken Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, and provided by "CBS This Morning," Syrian President Bashar Assad responds to a question from journalist Charlie Rose during an interview in Damascus, Syria. Assad warned in the interview broadcast Monday on CBS there will be retaliation against the U.S. for any military strike launched in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack. Assad said, "You should expect everything." (AP Photo/CBS This Morning)

  • Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem speaks to the media after his talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, unseen, in Moscow on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • Italian journalist Domenico Quirico (C), who was both kidnapped in Syria in early April, answers to journalists after disembark from the airplane on September 9, 2013 at Ciampino military airport in Rome. (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • This Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows a church in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. Rebels including al-Qaida-linked fighters gained control of Maaloula, Syrian activists said Sunday. Government media provided a dramatically different account of the battle suggesting regime forces were winning. It was impossible to independently verify the reports from Maaloula, a scenic mountain community known for being one of the few places in the world where residents still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic. A poster with the portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad is seen bottom right. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter stands on a damaged military tank in Zabadani, near Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad)

  • A Syrian man, who requested not to be named, wounded in the ongoing violence in Syria, is hospitalized at Ziv Medical Center in the northern Israeli city of Safed, Israel. The Syrian man is one of 89 victims of the Syrian civil war who have been treated at the hospital this year. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • A member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party holds a portrait of late Syrian President Hafez Assad the father of Bashar Assad during a demonstration against a possible military strike in Syria, in front of the United Nations headquarters, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Free Syrian army fighter stands on a damaged military tank in Zabadani, near Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad)

  • This Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows a general view of Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • This Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the entrance of Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria.(AP Photo/SANA)

  • In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • Israeli soldiers are seen near an Iron Dome battery near Jerusalem, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gil Yohanan)

  • A Syrian living in India wraps herself in a Syrian flag and participates in a protest march against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria, towards the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

  • This Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows damaged residential buildings from heavy fighting between Free Syrian army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

  • A smuggler breaks through the border as he enters Syrian territory near Cilvegozu, Turkey, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect damages of a church due to heavy shelling in Arbeen town, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/United media office of Arbeen)

  • In this Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rises from buildings after a bomb hit Binnish town, Idlib province, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

  • In this Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, plums of smoke rise due to heavy shelling in Binnish town, Idlib province, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)