Syrian flags fly in the wind as hundreds of people protest against Islamic State, Bashar al-Assad and U.S. policy in Syria outside the White House. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Hundreds of people gathered on Sunday (March 15) outside the White House in Washington, D.C. to protest against Islamic State, Syria's Bashar al-Assad and U.S. policy in Syria. As the war in Syria enters its fifth year, protesters expressed their disagreement with the new political shift in the U.S. policy towards Syria. "I think what makes me angry right now is the U.S policy in Syria. Our president has decided that a war criminal like Assad can continue torture, kill, destroy the country with no consequences what so ever. It is almost like he is in order to get the treaty with Iran he has decided to make Syria the sacrificial lamb," said protester and immigration attorney, Muna Jondy. The United States will have to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a political transition in Syria and is exploring ways to pressure him into agreeing to talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News in an interview. Washington has long insisted that Assad must be replaced through a negotiated, political transition, but the rise of a common enemy, hardline militant group Islamic State, appears to have slightly softened the West's stance towards him. In the interview broadcast on Sunday, Kerry did not repeat the standard U.S. line that Assad had lost all legitimacy and had to go. Syria's civil war is now into its fifth year, with hundreds of thousands killed and millions of Syrians displaced. Syria sank into civil war after a peaceful street uprising against four decades of Assad family rule began in March 2011. The revolt spiraled into an armed insurgency, which has deepened with the rise of Islamic State and other hardliners. Assad seems more likely to survive the Syrian crisis than at any point since it began. Iran's support for Assad is as solid as ever, with Russia showing no sign of abandoning him. U.S-led forces started air strikes against Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq in the summer. Washington has said the campaign in Syria is not coordinated with the Syrian military, which also views the group as its enemy. The war has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced close to half the population, according to the United Nations. Damascus accuses its Western and Gulf Arab opponents of seeking to destroy the country by providing aid to an insurgency now dominated by jihadists, who also pose a threat to the West. Assad appears to be betting that the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State will force Washington to engage with him.