Nightly News | August 06, 2012
>>> now to syria tonight. a new sign that the assad regime may indeed be on its last legs. today we got word of the highest level defection yet. this time truly a member of the assad inner circle . our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell tells us tonight that the state department and the pentagon are now working together on plans for syria after assad , hoping to avoid the chaos they believe broke out because of the lack of planning for a post saddam iraq . our chief foreign correspondent richard engel reports for us again tonight from inside syria .
>> reporter: syrian rebels today tried to silence the government's propaganda attacking the state tv station . the bombing caused injury but didn't knock the channel off the air. a short time later it broadcast this announcement. the prime minister the television said had been fired. but that's not what happened. the prime minister fled the country, the first syrian cabinet minister to defect. he had been hiding for two days according to his spokesman.
>> translator: he was chosen to be part of this criminal regime but decided to join the syrian people and their blessed revolution.
>> reporter: the syrian government could be collapsing from within. but it's feared the powerful military is still working and still on the attack, especially in the city of aleppo . some 20,000 syrian troops are massed on aleppo 's western edge and are attacking with tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets . a rebel commander with a hundred fighters in aleppo told us today if the rebels don't receive a massive influx of weapons within the next 72 hours , they'll have to give up the fight. do all the rebels agree that if you don't get support you're going to have to surrender the city?
>> translator: yes, he said. there's been an agreement for a tactical retreat to save lives. aleppo has been under attack for two weeks. and the rebels a force of perhaps 3,000 can't hold out much longer. today's defection is another sign of deep cracks in president assad 's inner circle . already more than 30 generals have defected, including another one today. brian, the rebels in this country are so poorly armed their best chance of reaching damascus may be for the government to collapse from within. brian?
>> richard engel reporting for us from northern syria tonight.