Nightly News   |  August 28, 2013

What happens if the US strikes Syria?

If the US takes action against Syria that causes the current regime to collapse, rebels will be left fighting for control and Assad may resort to using chemical weapons. But if the strikes have no impact, nothing may change at all. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> meeting with his national security team because of a lot of "what ifs" here in striking syria . the stakes high, and our chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in the region tonight with more on what's happen on the ground in syria . richard, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, lester. the u.s., frankly, faces bad choices for syria due too little and it look s too notch could create even more unrest in the region. collecting blood samples looking for evidence of chemical weapons . a top u.n. oun va envoy said indications are they are used but wouldn't say who did it.

>> some kind of substance was used that killed a lot of people. some people say 300, maybe 1,000, may more than 1,000, but this is unacceptable, this is outrageo outrageous.

>> reporter: the u.s. want to continue inspections saying it's necessary before military action, but syrians aren't counting on the u.s. listening. " wall street journal " is in damascus tonight.

>> on the curves, everythiserves, everythi ng is normal. check it points are normal, around the city, the city center is firmly controlled by the government, and the government forces.

>> reporter: but there are fears the already simmering middle east could boil. what could follow if the u.s. strikes? how will syrians allies respond? iran backs syria . so does hezbollah and lebanon, iraq, iran and russia. iran and hezbollah both have missiles that can hit israel. israel put its missile defense system on high alert, deployed more troops near the syrian border and calmed up reservists as israelis lined up for gas masks . what happens if assad falls? a lot depends on how far the u.s. goes. big strikes, the syrian regime could collapse leaving rebels including a growing line to al qaeda to fight for control. assad , desperate, could everybody a even use more kem wall weapons and what happens if the strikes have no impact? assad stays in power, and little justice for this man, reunited with his son missing since the gas attacks. presumed dead like his brothers or the still unidentified children like baby number 14 on a postboard clinic out damascus many syrians don't what the regime to just get a slap on the wrist. lester?

>> richard engel tonight, thank you.