Will the West Weigh in on Syria's Unrest?

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For three months, Syrian protesters have risked their lives to end the dictatorship of President Bashar Assad.

And as he continues to clings to power, street demonstrations and the number of refugees are growing.

Assad addressed his nation Sunday for the first time in two months. He said he's open to reform but claims the protests are the work of "vandals and saboteurs," and won't be tolerated.

Thousands of Syrians answered his speech with more demonstrations, as supporters of Assad clashed with the regime’s opponents.

Human rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed more than 1,400 people and detained more than 10,000 since the protests began in March.

Turkey has opened its borders to several thousand refugees. Many

of them say they won't go back until Assad is gone.

Former Syrian army soldier Tharwat Faydo said he was disgusted by the army's brutality against the protesters. He threw down his gun, joined the protesters, and was hidden for five days until he could escape to Turkey.

"The refugees need help from the whole world to return back to Syria," Faydo said. "We thank Turkey and the countries who have been helping out the refugees, but this is not enough."

Help from the West for the Syrians appears to be more in the form of moral support rather than a push for regime change. Actress Angelina Jolie recently visited the refugees on behalf of the United Nations.

"What I've been most impressed by, impressed and disturbed by, [is] how much they understand about what is happening in their country," Jolie said. "How they speak about family members being killed, themselves hearing gunfire, seeing their houses bombed, having to leave everything."

The White House has shown little appetite for toppling Assad compared to efforts for ousting President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

"There needs to be first and foremost a cessation of violence against innocent Syrians. There needs to be actual action towards political dialogue so that this transition to a more democratic Syria can take place," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

"And as we have said in the past, President Assad needs to either lead that transition or get out of the way," he said.

The Assad regime remains an ally of Iran and a host for terrorist leaders.

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.