Return to Transcripts main page


Iraqi Forces Break Through in Ramadi; Bill Clinton Set to Campaign for Hillary Clinton in January; Disasters This Holiday Season in United States, Britain, Australia Leave Thousands Stranded. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2015 - 11:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Devastated and virtually deserted, but almost free of ISIS, the city of Ramadi is very close to being recaptured from the

terror group. That is, according to Iraq's military. We're going to get you a full update in just a moment.

Also ahead this hour, deadly weather conditions spoil the holiday season from a Texas tornado to fires Down Under and flooding in the United

Kingdom. We'll bring you details on all of that.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Starting in JInuary i will have my not so secret weapon.


ANDERSON: As the race for the White House heats up, why Hillary Clinton's campaign is banking on Bill for a boost.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: A very good evening. Just after 8:00 here in the UAE.

We are going to start tonight in Iraq where government forces say they are on the verge of retaking Ramadi from the hands of ISIS.

Now a military spokesman says all ISIS militants have now fled the central government compound which was their base in the city. Iraqi troops

launched the latest offensive to take back Ramadi on Tuesday, seven months after it fell to the terrorist group.

Let's kick off with Robyn Kriel who has been following the story since the start of the offensive, joining us now from London.

And Ramadi, mainly Sunni Arab city in Anbar province, about 60 miles west of the capital Baghdad. Robyn, it fell to ISIS in May. The Iraqi army has

been trying to retake it for months, ratcheting up their efforts in the past couple of days. And a breakthrough now according to the Iraqi


How significant is this news?


Ramadi would be a huge gain for the Iraqi security forces. They are, we understand, about 120 meters from the compound and it has been a brutal day

of fierce fighting, sniper fire and thousands of improvised explosive devices both inside the ground, Becky, as well as entire houses rigged to

explode using a number of IEDs put into a cluster.

We understand ISIS has had a chance to entrench itself in that city since May. So they've really been preparing for this offensive. And although

there are no ISIS militants in the compound, fighting will continue around the city until it is liberated, we're told.

ANDERSON: And how many people are still living in the area? And what is being done to prevent civilian casualties, Robyn?

KRIEL: Well, as much as possible is done to prevent those civilian casualties. We are told that ISIS in the days before this assault really

began early Tuesday morning the allied forces, U.S. and Iraqi security forces dropped leaflets over the city to warn civilians that this onslaught

was coming so many did have the chance to leave, but ISIS prevented about 10,000 civilians from leaving and ever since then they've been caught up in

this fighting.

The Iraqis said they were going to use them as human shields.

Now, they have managed to save around 120 families and given them safe passage, but they're still asking civilians if they are inside Ramadi to

put around white flags or hold white flags so that they know they are civilians and not ISIS militants.

ANDERSON: And Robyn is on the story for you out of London this evening. Robyn, thank you.

The recapture of Ramadi, then, would be a major boost for the Iraqi government. Joining me now on the phone from Beirut is Hekmat Suleiman who

is a political adviser to the governor of Iraq's Anbar province.

What are your sources telling you about what is going on on the ground, sir?

HEKMAT SULEIMAN, ADVISOR TO GOVERNOR OF ANBAR: Well, we have found that the strategic forces now (inaudible) the (inaudible) governmental compound

over there and they confirmed that they are witnessing (inaudible) cannot see or not see any ISIS individual inside the complex. That would mean

that all of the fighters have -- were drove to (inaudible), which is Sophia (ph) and al-Buqaraj (ph) as was planned before.

So what only need now is to dismantle the IEDs that have been planted by ISIS inside the governmental complex in Ramadi.

ANDERSON: Yeah, clearly, a very difficult and challenging operation and reports say that hundreds of ISIS militants have been killed. If that is

the case that would be, of course, significant.

I wonder what you think, thoug, of this. A spokesman for Iraq's joint operations command has told CNN they will announce the liberation of Ramadi

either later tonight or tomorrow early morning. Is that wise given that it is likely, isn't it, that many ISIS militants may have simply fled to the

northeast of the city?

[11:05:34] SULEIMAN: Well, the counterterrorism services have survived ISIS in a different plan by attacking the most concentrated ISIS force

area, which is Abu Baq (ph) and al Nuab (ph) district.

So, that's what led to the collapse of the arrangement of ISIS and let them withdraw from the (inaudible) defense compound. And now we are noticing

that those militias and those jihadists targeting Sophia (ph) to the near northeast of Ramadi to force them to force the river and to across to a

very open area that not quite density of houses and buildings. So, it will be easy for the aircraft to target them.

ANDERSON: So why did the Iraqi government choose not to co-op the help of Shia militia during this operation? I mean, without the help of the

thousands of Shia militia who were so successful in the past, what chance can the Iraqi forces hold on to Ramadi particularly if these ISIS militants

have simply fled north?

SULEIMAN: Well, since May when ISIS took over Ramadi, we have prepared as a government, as (inaudible) with the cooperation the central (inaudible

and also coordinating with the international ally of anti-ISIS to regain respite for the forces and especially the army that we need to be -- to go

again and for good training and discipline so to make everybody believe in the army rather than the image that we taken afer the army losing many

areas for ISIS.

So, now basically the army and also we have succeeded to volunteer about 9,000 of Anbar individuals, tribal individuals that are willing to fight

ISIS so they are now ready, they've been armed and trained well. So they fought (inaudible) on the battle.

So first it's while we have more respect and we are motivating all the army for a new city to be liberated and recaptured. And then also to get rid of

the accident that took place in Tikrit and raised to be a sectarian issue that will spoil the image of the victims that we're looking for.

ANDERSON: Hekmat, we're going to leave it there because this line isn't particularly good, but we very much appreciate your thoughts on what is a

very fluid situation there on the ground in Ramadi, in Anbar province. Thank you for that.

Well, as ISIS suffers apparent losses across its territory, its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is purportedyl speaking out for the first time since last

May. A lengthy audio message posted on social media seems aimed at boosting the morale of ISIS fighters. It also threatens Israel.

Now, CNN cannot independently verify that the man speaking is indeed Baghdadi. I want to get you to Jerusalem where CNN's Oren Lieberman joins


Oren, let's start with Baghdadi's threats. What were they? And what's the reaction in Israel?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's actually been very little reaction in Israel so far. Prime Minister Netanyahu when

speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting didn't mention this audio clip and that's indicative of perhaps how not seriously they view this threat.

Israel has assessed that ISIS is still a fairly distant threat and although there are some statements Baghdadi makes in this audio clip, there isn't an

expectation that there's going to be a large conflict with ISIS here.

Now, ISIS has actually faced criticism from other militant groups for not focusing more on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so that may be why we're

suddenly seeing Baghdadi bring this up. We have seen over the last two months other similar messages, not from Baghdadi, but it was a couple of

months that ISIS released its first Hebrew-language video threatening Israel, and then this message that we just saw where Baghdadi says Israel

will be surrounded and they will liberate Jerusalem.

Again, from what I can tell, from what I've seen here, the lack of reaction, Israel not taking this threat particularly seriously.

There have been a few arrests here of people spreading ISIS propaganda or trying to go fight for ISIS, but that number, Becky, remains fairly small.

[11:10:25] ANDERSON: All right, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed. Oren, is in Jerusalem.

You've heard the top of story this evening. Still to come tonight, a new round of severe storms and tornadoes claim more lives in the United States.

You are going to hear from a survivor up next.


ANDERSON: Well, El Nino-blamed flooding has displaced more than 150,000 people in South America, most of them are in Paraguay, the worst-hit area.

The video you're seeing here is from Argentina where 20,000 people were evacuated. The country's president plans to tour the area today, just one

example of the extreme weather conditions we are covering for you this hour here on CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

A new round of violent weather hits the southern United States killing 11 people in Texas.

Several tornadoes struck the suburbs of Dallas late Saturday. Hundreds of buildings damaged or destroyed as you can see there.

Shocked survivors described the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter's car is in the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your daughter's car is in the kitchen here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter's car is in the kitchen right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the back of your house?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, my car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband's car was in the driveway, it's out and around into the alley, but her car was in the kitchen and it was in the



ANDERSON: Well, in California a wildfire being blamed on downed power lines. It was about 10 percent contained Saturday, but heavy winds are

making it more difficult to control.

And a large bush fire has destroyed more than a hundred homes in Australia's Victoria State. It's along the popular tourist route, the

great ocean road, parts of which have been closed.

Meanwhile, severe flooding has inundated large parts of Northern England. Prime Minister David Cameron sending more troops to help as hundreds are

evacuated and thousands are left without power.

Martha Fairly has more.


MARTHA FAIRLIE, ITV: The Boxing Day deluge had been predicted, but there was nothing homeowners could do to stop the rising water. At one point,

15,000 homes were left without electricity as power cuts affected the center of Rochdale (ph).

The waterside restaurant, a building which had stood tall for 200 years on the banks of the River Irwell, another casualty of the rising river levels.

And in Ratcliffe a gas main exploded.

in Wally (ph) in Lancashire, the River Calder flooded the main road, cutting the village in two and flooding businesses and homes.

Some families who were evacuated, returned this evening to assess the damage and salvage possessions, but the cleanup here will take months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time we've been in this state. As I said, Robert's been 50 years, Hughie Shackleson (ph) has been here 52 years

and never, ever, totally unprecedented.

FAIRLIE: Efforts to keep the rising waters at bay were seemingly futile and emergency services and the army was drafted in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we've going to the houses that are likely to flooding, knocking on the doors, asking the people to leave, telling them

the situation and then registering their response so either helping them to evacuate their property or registering whether they say they don't want to

leave and then taking that information and passing it back to the police.


FAIRLIE: The force of the flood waters swept away the red rock's footbridge at Horton on the River Darwin.

While in Delf (ph), homeowners attempted to bail out their properties as the river levels continued to rise.

Parts of Manchester's city center were also submerged as the River Irwell burst its banks.

The M-63 motorway was shut after a 20-foot sink hole appeared in the carriage way. A month's worth of rain has already come down over the

course of one day and with it continuing to fall this evening, residents are wondering when it will all end.

Martha Fairlie, ITV News, Lancashire.


ANDERSON: Well, there is some good news in all of this in what can only be described as wild weather.

Police in Australia's Victoria State rescued a koala who was left dehydrated and weak from a bush fire. This little guy was found on the

side of the road. After giving him some water and some gum leaves, the koala feeling much better and handed over to wildlife workers.

Well, live from Abu Dhabi this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton gets ready to unleash what she calls her not so secret weapon. How she plans to get her husband to help out on the

campaign trail.


[11:21:55] ANDERSON: Well, the scene at the Vatican this Sunday where Pope Francis celebrated the final Sunday mass of 2015. The head of the Catholic

Church urged people not to lose faith in the family, and to open their hearts to forgiveness.

This is CNN, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, 22 minutes past 8:00 in the UAE where we are base.

To the United States presidential race now with the two major parties will be choosing their candidate in the coming months and on the Democratic side

Hillary Clinton has one major advantage an advocate who has been the commander-in-chief before.

CNN's Joe Johns reports.


H. CLINTON: Starting in January, I will have my not-so-secret weapon.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Bill Clinton was a candidate running for the White House, he told voters, "You get two for the

price of one." Now the only former president to have a spouse running for office is getting ready to join her as she makes her second run.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have noticed, and in my studies of history, I noticed most successful presidents are those who

get elected at a time that they're suited governor, and she's the best qualified person for the time.


B. CLINTON: Thank you very much.

JOHNS: But the last time the former president stumped for his wife, the results were mixed.

B. CLINTON: I highly recommend her.

JOHNS: In 2008 amid a tight race with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton played a prominent role, campaigning for Hillary in key early primary states, but

along with the large and enthusiastic crowds came a series of verbal miscues, including a harsh assessment of Obama.

B. CLINTON: Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've seen.

JOHNS: And days later an off-the-cuff comment in South Carolina, suggesting that skin color was a key factor in winning the primary there.

B. CLINTON: Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice in '84 and '88.

JOHNS: Questions quickly arouse whether Mr. Clinton was doing more harm than good, and though he remained on the trail through the later



JOHNS: ... he was tightly guarded, kept on script and away from the media. But how do you say no to the man who was revered among Democrats, popular

among all Americans and whose penchant for delivering a memorable line cannot be understated?

B. CLINTON: What new ideas do we bring to Washington? I always give a one- word answer. Arithmetic.

JOHNS: A lot has changed since Bill Clinton's successful run more than two decades ago, when Hillary was credited for standing by her man as charged

of infidelity dogged him. This time Hillary is the candidate, Bill is the spouse, and Chelsea is a mom.

H. CLINTON: Now it's a little bit more complicated with him, because people still call former presidents Mr. President.


H. CLINTON: So I have to really work on this.

[11:25:03] KIMMEL: I know what to call you. The first president lady would be a nice thing to be called. The first lady, doesn't the first lady.

H. CLINTON: First dude, first mate, first gentleman. I'm just not sure about it.

KIMMEL: Does the first lady typically pick out a new china pattern in the...

H. CLINTON: Typically, yes.

KIMMEL: So would Bill do that while you're actually in China, will he be selecting it?

JOHNS: Bill Clinton has not been invisible during his wife's run. He attended a handful of campaign events and been quietly raising money for

the campaign. But now, as we enter the final stretch to Iowa and the primaries, you can expect to see the former president back in the


Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


ANDERSON: Well, your Parting Shots tonight. How about catching some winter sun in Moscow.

Russia's capital has been unseasonably warm over the past week, but even with no snow, the city is aglow. Some of its most intricate architecture

has been painted with lights for the holidays. But it's not just for Christmas, it's also getting ready to welcome in the New Year, which some

look pretty excited for.

Don't miss the girl in the far left there.

Our top story this hour, a reported breakthrough for Iraqi forces fighting ISIS militants in the city of Ramadi. We are keen to hear your thoughts on

this news and the other stories that we brought you this hour, do connect with us on our Facebook page,

We'll watch our reports exclusive digital footage there. You can also get in touch with me as ever @BeckyCNN. Tweet me @BeckyCNN.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Your headlines follow this very short break.