Nightly News | April 25, 2011
>>> now overseas to the turmoil in the arab world on two different fronts tonight. first in syria , the bloody crackdown on protesters gets deadly serious as government troops open fire in one key southern town, and it's almost impossible to get firsthand accounts out of there of what's really happening.
>>> and in libya, gadhafi 's compound in tripoli has taken a direct hit from the air, courtesy of nato. and tonight the question is whether gadhafi himself was the real target of the air strike . our chief war kraurnt, richard engle, following both stories for us tonight from linyeah. he's in benghazi. richard , good evening. rrtd the nato offensive does appear to be picking up. even italy now says it will participate in air strikes against libya, its former close trading partner as they carries out a heavy air strike . u.s. officials say the bombing was not a assassination attempt , but if gadhafi would have been there at the time, he would have knin targeted. it's a fine line, with a message delivered with two norwegian f-16s. they destroyed gadhafi 's office, a library, and an eating hall. they saw no evidence of military infrastructure.
>> they're telling us this building used to hold presidents, diplomats.
>> libyan officials say the attack was an attempt to kill gu gadha gadhafi , who later appeared on television. and he's not the only one in the regime feeling underthreat. today, a serious escalation in syria . they brought in tanks and soldiers to combat the opposition. troops cut power and phones and searched houses. some protesters threw what looked like cans at the tanks. syria says it acted to stop an islamic militant group , and that the people of dara asked to be quote liberated from terrorists. but amateur video shows it's the government terrorizing the libyan opposition. firing this weekend on protesters. one man lifts his shirt to show he's unarmed. then appears to dive to the ground as shots ring out.
>> it seemed the message the government is sending to the people is it's not going to be lenient, and it will not tolerate any more protests. it's going to use all force possible regardless of any inter international pressure or any outrage in syria .
>> reporter: a crackdown that has prompted so far almost little international comdenination and none from the united states . the white house said it is considering targeted sanctions against senior syrian officials including freezing their assets.
>> it's so tough for you, for me, for western journalists to get into syria and report the story. if the whole world isn't watching, doesn't it make it easier for asad to kill his own people?
>> it certainly does. the images are getting out there, but only on cell phones orvideos smuggled out of the country. the united states has very little influence over syria . can't do much to pressure it, but the arab states certainly do. so far, however, they have not been using that influence against the syrian regime. they're worried about another chaotic revolution. the united states still in power would like to see a managed transition.
>> richard engle heading up that