Nightly News | May 20, 2011
DAVID GREGORY, anchor (Washington, DC): In that same speech yesterday, President Obama had some tough words as well for Syria , where there's been a bloody crackdown on protesters. He said President Assad should either move toward democracy or get out of the way. But as events in Syria today made clear, the message was ignored. Our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Cairo tonight with more on a very violent Friday.
RICHARD ENGEL reporting: Good evening, David . It was a lot more than ignored. Human rights groups say that today was one of the bloodiest days so far, with at least 30 people killed, and that unlike previous crackdowns which tended to focus on a single city in Syria , today it was nationwide, targeting anyone who tried to go out and demonstrate. Amateur video shows demonstrators on a main street in Homs . Security forces open fire . The demonstrators scramble and take shelter on a side street . The gunfire continues. A police car is on fire. Then protesters can be seen carrying a man. He appears unconscious, shot in the side. 'Keep his head up,' they yell. The demonstrators don't give up. They regroup and shout, 'The people want to topple the regime.' President Obama yesterday said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must allow dissent or step aside.
President BARACK OBAMA: He can lead that transition or get out of the way.
ENGEL: Syria isn't listening.
Mr. FAWA GERGES (Professor, London School of Economics): President Assad is fighting for his own survival. He has decided to crush the opposition, to silence the protesters. What you have seen today is basically a clear example of the strategy of the Syrian government.
ENGEL: Hundreds of refugees have escaped Syria , many entering Lebanon .
ENGEL: 'We have been imprisoned, banned from using our voices, our minds, our intellects. We have to have a little freedom,' said a refugee. But in Hama today, security forces used tear gas to break up a protest. An activist tries to film them. When he's spotted, a soldier takes aim and fires, but misses. The United States has imposed sanctions, it has made strong statements, but it does not appear to be making much difference. David :
GREGORY: Richard Engel live for us tonight in Cairo . Richard , thanks very much.