Nightly News | April 26, 2011
>>> now we turn to news from overseas, to the rapidly deteriorating crisis in syria , with the bloody government crackdown on protesters escalating there. the u.s. state department is telling american citizens now to leave the country. others are wondering how long the u.s. can stay out of the fray. our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell , reports tonight on what may be another no-win situation for america.
>> reporter: human rights groups say hundreds of protesters have been killed in the last few days. some gunned down in the streets. and today more than 2,000 security police reportedly fanned out across a damascus suburb. but this is what syrian government tv showed tonight. a funeral, it claimed, of 15 soldiers killed by demonstrators. in daraa the situation is desperate, says al jazeera 's rula amin, one of the few reporters in syria .
>> anyone who dares to get onto the streets is risking to be shot because the army is shooting at anyone who's on the street. people are scared. they are panicking. they want to try to flee town but there's no way out.
>> reporter: in addition to those killed, hundreds more have gone missing, taken from their homes.
>> just in the last couple of days security forces have been going from house to house, arresting people and taking them into detention.
>> reporter: the ruthless crackdown and reports of iranian involvement put more pressure on the white house and the rest of the world to do something.
>> we're pursuing a range of possible policy options, including targeted sanctions to respond to the crackdown and make clear that this behavior by the syrian government is unacceptable.
>> reporter: president obama met today with the crown prince of the united arab emirates . as the arab league issued a statement without mentioning syria specifically, saying the protesters deserve support, not bullets. mr. obama also talked yesterday to turkey's prime minister erdogan, who today urged syria 's president assad to move toward democracy.
>> we could end up seeing in one of the syrian or more of the syrian cities the massacre that we feared would happen in benghazi, libya.
>> reporter: but unlike libya, so far the arab league , the u.s., and even israel prefer assad, the devil they know, to whatever might replace him in a country with no organized opposition, just a courageous but unpredictable protest movement. brian?
>> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom tonight. andrea, thanks. and