Nightly News   |  August 22, 2013

More evidence of chemical attack in Syria?

On Thursday the Syrian government bombed villages outside Damascus, the same neighborhoods hit Wednesday. New video bolsters the claims of rebels who say chemical weapons were used, with hundreds buried in mass graves.  NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> horrifying images that will instinctively make you want to look away , yet they can't be ignored. in a long war that has brought so much death and misery to both sides, the video evidence of what may have happened inside syria , a mass chemical weapons attack, has shocked the world. hundreds, many children, are dead. tonight the claims of a chemical attack have still not been verified. from the syrian regimes, denials, while the obama white house which for a year has called the chemical weapons use in syria a red line , is now being cautious as it calls for an investigation. you're about to see what the rebels say is the evidence, some of it very graphic. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel joins us now with that. richard?

>> reporter: good evening, lester. more videos emerge from syria today. they are unconfirmed by nbc news, but they are consistent with the accounts of witnesses we spoke to. and, again, these images are graphic. the syrian government bombed villages outside damascus today, the same villages hit yesterday by what looks like a war crime . an outrage. hundreds killed by chemical weapons , the rebels say, many of them buried today in mass graves . a syrian cameraman contracted by our partner itn filmed people looking at an exploded rocket. near it, dead bodies . nbc news has no way to confirm that the casualties were caused by this weapon. there is still no definitive proof that chemical weapons were used or by whom. but how can anyone fake rows of dead children? no apparent injuries. no blood. just lifeless bodies, their arms folded. so many they're not even named, but numbered. this is baby 11 from the village of duma, the number written on a burial shroud . in syria , outrages have long gone unpunished. a vicious civil war now in its third year, more than 100,000 dead, nearly 2 million refugees.

>> there's no end in sight. there is no light at the end of the tunnel .

>> reporter: can anything be done? options include a no-fly zone to ground assad's air power . expensive and a long-term commitment, not actively being considered. arming the rebels. but washington worries, who would get the weapons? the rebels are divided with some linked to al qaeda . what about a military invasion? u.s. boots on the ground . for war-weary americans, that's not even under consideration. today a senior administration official says the u.s. must be, quote, humble about what we can and cannot do. and with assad backed by russia, iran, and hezbollah, there is little the world can do. the u.n. has proven to be utterly powerless. it has inspectors in damascus right now, just a few miles from where so many died yesterday, but the syrian government won't let them see what could be the worst atrocity in syria 's atrocious war. it's unclear, lester, if this will be a turning point or just another horror in a war no one seems