WASHINGTON - In Syria, the Assad government is pursuing a bloody crackdown on dissent. Amateur video appears to show bodies lying in the street in the city of Homes, in the west. Syria finally allowed foreign journalists into Hama today. After ten days of shelling by the army, the streets are empty. Many of the buildings, burned out.
Human rights groups say nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed in Syria since March. CBS News anchor Scott Pelley spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about how far the U.S. is willing to go to stop the murder of civilians.
Pelley: The Obama administration has described Bashar al Assad as illegitimate and I wonder if it's time for him to go?
Clinton: Well, that's gonna be up to the Syrian people, but I can tell you that President Obama and I have been working very hard to marshal international opinion. So we are building what I think is a much more persuasive case that the international community, not just the United States wants to see peaceful change in Syria.
Pelley: You're talking about U.S. leadership. Why doesn't the U.S. lead and take that one half step further and say that Assad's time is done. He has to go.
Clinton: Well, I think we've been very clear in what we have said about his loss of legitamacy. But what we really need to do to put the pressure on Assad is to sanction the oil and gas industry. And we want to see Europe take more steps in that direction. And we wanna see China take steps with us. We wanna see India, because India and China have large energy investments inside of Syria. We want to see Russia cease selling arms to the Assad regime.
Pelley: Assad, right at this moment, seems to be attacking his cities in a most vigorous way to put an end to it before the pressure you've described ousts him from power.
Clinton: Well, but I think the pressure requires an organized opposition. And there isn't one Scott. So part of what we've been encouraging and trying to facilitate is for the opposition to become unified.
Pelley: You're not going to say he has to go?
Clinton: We are, I think, building the chorus of international condemnation. And, rather than, you know, us saying it and nobody else following, we think it's important to lead and have others follow as well.