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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI

Turkey Targets Kurdish Militants After Ankara Attack; MSP: Health Care In Syria Has "Collapsed"; Assad Advisor Speaks To CNN; Pope Suggests Trump Is "Not A Christian"; Pope On Zika: Avoiding Pregnancy Not Evil; British, EU Leaders In Brussels For Critical Summit; Civilians Fleeing Syria; Britain's E.U. Referendum. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 18, 2016 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(HEADLINES)

[15:00:13] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We're coming to you live from CNN London. This is THE WORLD

RIGHT NOW. Welcome once again, everybody. A very busy hour with high profile guests. Thanks again for being with us.

Now as we started the program with Turkey, let's get into that story. A swift response from Turkey, and a warning of more to come. The country is

striking back after a deadly bombing in Ankara that it blames on Kurdish forces.

Turkish planes attacked Kurdish positions in Northern Iraq just hours after a blast targeted military vehicles IN Ankara killing at least 28.

The prime minister of Turkey visited victims in the hospital today. He is pointing the finger at a Kurdish fighter from Syria saying he got help from

Turkey's PKK militant group.

Let's bring in Arwa Damon live tonight in Ankara with more. Arwa, let's start a little bit with what Turkey is saying. Obviously, they're blaming

Kurds. We've reported that, but they're also speaking to western allies and saying, you need to come on side with us as far as the Kurds are

concerned.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's really been a big underlying message in all of this because not only did you have

that strike here in Ankara that killed at least 28 there as you were mentioning.

You also had another attack that happened in the southeastern part of Turkey, and that is where Turkey is battling the PKK and this strike hit an

armored vehicle and killed six Turkish soldiers.

Now Turkey does not differentiate between the PKK that it considers to be a terrorist organization and the YPG. The YPG however is America's strongest

ally inside Syria and receives significant U.S. support.

So we asked the country's prime minister's spokesman, Osman Sert, what this was going to be potentially do to Turkey/U.S. relations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSMAN SERT, SPOKESMAN FOR TURKISH PRIME MINISTER: The relations we make of course are important. You cannot deny it. But I have to wonder, you know,

at this corner, 28 Turkish citizens is killed by YPG in Ankara and how many more Turkish citizens should be killed by YPG, PKK together that are

American friends should believe that it is a terrorist organization?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAMON: Now, Hala, the YPG does vehemently deny any sort of involvement in the Ankara attacks saying that their battle lines are drawn at the Syrian

border, but either way, Turkey does view them as a threat, especially given the territorial gains they have been making more recently.

Turkey does believe that this poses a direct threat to Turkey's own national security, which does no matter what is publicly said put a

significant strain on Turkey/U.S. relations at a point when neither can afford to see that happen -- Hala.

GORANI: Is this going to be a new hot war now, Turkey against Kurdish militants complicating a situation where Kurdish militants inside Iraq and

Syria have been battling ISIS and are supported by the United States?

DAMON: It's a very complicated situation, Hala. The Turks -- the Turkish state has been battling the PKK for three decades now. It's a war that has

cost tens of thousands of lives on both sides. A ceasefire fell apart over the summer that resulted in renewed fighting in the south eastern part of

the country that has already killed hundreds.

Because of the YPG advances inside Syria, Turkey has been launching hundreds of artillery rounds into Syria trying to stop the YPG from

preventing, but yes, the concern amongst many that they could receive a battle line being drawn.

A much more significant one that could realistically speaking down the line potentially pit Turkey against the United States because the U.S. also, at

this stage is not considering the YPG to be a terrorist organization although it does consider the PKK to be one.

[15:05:07]And America can't afford to lose the YPG inside Syria, nor can it afford to lose Turkey as an ally at this stage.

GORANI: OK. Lots of acronyms for different groups, but overall, just a complicated web of alliances leading to more deaths and more violence.

Thanks very much. Arwa Damon is in Ankara this evening.

The health care system inside Syria has, quote, "collapsed," according to the charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres. Take a look at this video. It's

what remains of an MSF supported hospital in Northern Syria.

The organization says it was struck repeatedly and deliberately, killing 16 patients, nine medical professionals. MSF is calling for an investigation

into the attack. The charity says it was clearly no accident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANNE LIU, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: this attack cannot, can only be considered deliberate. It was probably carried out by

the Syrian government-led coalition that is predominantly active in the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Joanne Liu is the head of the Medecins Sans Frontieres. Let's cross to the Syrian capital, Damascus. I'm joined now live by Bouthaina

Shaaban. She is a senior advisor to Syrian President Assad, and speaking to us exclusively this hour.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, first I've got to ask you, we've heard from Medecins Sans Frontieres who supported that hospital in the Idlib province saying

this was a deliberate attack, four missiles, then a 40-minute pause, then another bombardment when rescue personnel were trying to save people

trapped in the building.

They're saying this is either the Syrian government or Russian air strikes. How do you respond to that accusation?

DR. BOUTHAINA SHAABAN, SENIOR ADVISER TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD: You know, two days ago they were accusing the Russia airplane and the

Russian foreign minister came on television and said for two days, no Russian plane was flying over Aleppo.

It was admitted many times by the Americans that the American coalition and their planes that they are making mistakes. And I think the allegations of

the Syrian government and the Russian, in many areas and in in many places and in many incidents are totally unfounded.

The only party, the Syrian army in alliance with the aircraft are attacking the terrorist, the ISIL and the terrorist. The only, the only aim for

Syria and for Russia is to eradicate terrorism from Syria.

GORANI: So these hospitals -- if I can jump in -- these hospitals have all been targeted since the intensification of the Russian air campaign in

Syria began a few weeks ago. The American anti-ISIS commander in Iraq, Colonel Warren said we were nowhere near Idlib when this MSF supported

hospital was bombed saying essentially it cannot have been us.

Do you think it is not possible at all, Dr. Shaaban, that the Russians or regime planes have targeted either intentionally or by mistake some of

these hospitals?

SHAABAN: No. Give me one good reason why the Russians or the Syrians would attack a hospital. Our hospitals have been destroyed by the

terrorists, our schools, our college has been destroyed. No way the Syrian army or the Russian aircraft would target any civilian hospital.

No way they would target anybody except the terrorists. That's for sure. Anything other than that, Hala, is absolutely unfounded and it's meant to

distort the image of the Russian and as you can see, the corporate media from the time the Russians scape had been creating all kinds of stories

against the Russians.

But the reality is that the Russians and the Syrian army are the ones who are fighting terrorism in Syria.

GORANI: They'd argue these hospitals are in rebel-controlled territory and that they're being deliberately targeted, you are denying that.

I remember we spoke back in September of 2015, and at the time, Dr. Shaaban, I asked you, what is the extent of Russia's involvement in the

government's military campaign?

And you wouldn't get into it, but now that it's established, they are conducting bombing campaigns in Syria. What is your assessment of what

difference the Russian involvement has made in the war in the last several months?

SHAABAN: The Russian involvement has absolutely accelerated our ability to fight terrorism and liberate many villages and many cities and to lift the

siege from thousands of people all over Syria.

[15:10:03]You should come to Syria, Hala, and see the Syrian people in many areas when terrorists are defeated and when these cities and towns come

back to the normal authority of the government and of the state.

GORANI: Right.

SHAABAN: It is absolutely a great thing that is happening. The only, the only countries who are very angry with that are Turkey and Saudi Arabia

because these terrorists have been their means in this war on Shia. And that's why when you see --

GORANI: Dr. Shaaban that no civilian targets are being -- are in the cross hairs of the Syrian government campaign or the Russian air strikes? Not a

single civilian is being intentionally killed in this military campaign?

SHAABAN: Listen, I'm not saying -- I'm not saying Hala no civilian has been killed. In a war there are things that happen out of control, and

there are something called collateral damage, but I'm saying, no way, the Syrian army or the Russian will target any civilian in Syria. The only

target the terrorists because the aim is to eradicate and defeat terrorism out of Syria.

GORANI: And Dr. Shaaban, you say coming to Syria, as I've told you I've applied for visas and has not been granted one which explains why I have

not visited.

SHAABAN: When you come to Syria, we will take you. You will go to places and you will see for yourself what -- what false claims these media are

doing.

GORANI: Dr. Shaaban, I'm going to ask you a question you may not be expecting, since we're talking about Syria, and this is concerning a U.S.

politician. Donald Trump has had some comments about Vladimir Putin and about your president, President Assad.

As you know he's a Republican presidential candidate, he said Russia is hitting ISIS as far as I'm concerned, they should continue hitting ISIS.

And he said, Assad is no baby, he's not good, Donald Trump said, but who are the other people that the U.S. is backing? Here we go again.

What's your reaction to Donald Trump essentially siding with President Assad saying he's better than the rebels that perhaps some western

countries are backing.

SHAABAN: Well, it's good. Excuse me, it's good that he's asking the question, who are the others that the United States is backing. Anyway,

you know, the evaluation of our country doesn't come from Trump or anybody else, it comes from the Syrian people and his election is by the Syrian

people.

And therefore we don't wait really for others to give us a good statement about our president's behavior or who he is. But it's good to ask

difficult question like who are the ones that are being backed by the United States and now by Turkey and by Saudi Arabia.

Who are the ones that Turkey is jumping to defend? It is the same terrorists that Turkey sent to Syria right from the beginning that is now

they are defeating, Turkey is trying to get across border in order to protect terrorism.

And I would like Europe and western countries not to look to Turkey and with the government of the solution because they are the problem along with

Saudi Arabia.

GORANI: All right, Bouthaina Shaaban joining us live from Damascus, thanks very much for your time this evening on CNN.

A lot more to come this hour. The pope wades into the race for the White House by suggesting that Donald Trump is not a Christian.

Also coming up, we will be live in Brussels as crucial E.U. summit talks take place. Britain's prime minister once reforms, will he get them?

We'll be right back.

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[15:16:08]

GORANI: The leader of the Roman Catholic Church is not eligible to vote for the president of the United States, obviously, but that is not stopping

Pope Francis from expressing his opinion about the candidates.

Here is what he had to say about Republican front runner, Donald Trump, and his proposals to build a wall with Mexico and halt immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be located, and not building bridges is not a

Christian. This is not in the gospel, as far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not vote, I am not going to get involved

in that. I say only that this man is not a Christian, if he has said things like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Rosa Flores joins me now live with more reaction to what Pope Francis had to say about Donald Trump. And I guess people were surprised

that he was saying something about a candidate during a very heated political campaign coming from the pontiff, some people were just a little

bit surprised -- Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know Pope Francis is not one to shy away from tough topics. We've seen him tackle a lot of these since he

became pope, and so he's a background here, the context of how he uttered these words.

So, we're on the papal plane on our way back from Mexico after a six-day visit there. He was very close to the Mexican people, to the youth. He

talked about immigration and against drug violence.

And so imagine all of that in the background as Pope Francis gets this question from a journalist. Something along the lines of, you know, Pope

Francis, you've spoken very eloquently about immigration in Mexico.

But right across the border, there is a presidential election going on and there is a front runner, Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall between

the U.S. and Mexico and he wants to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Would you, Pope Francis, recommend for American Catholics to vote for this man? So this is where we get this answer from Pope Francis saying, that

anyone who utters the words, who wants to build walls instead of bridges, is not Christian. And as you might imagine, Donald Trump responded very

vividly. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a very good Christian because the pope said, something to the effect that maybe Donald Trump

isn't Christian. OK, and he's questioning my faith.

I was very surprised to see it, but I am a Christian, and I'm proud of it. OK, for a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful.

I'm proud to be a Christian, and as president, I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is

happening now --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: Though it's important to note that Pope Francis did not utter Donald Trump's name, Donald Trump's name was in the question -- Hala.

GORANI: OK. Yes -- but the answer has been interesting, it's made headlines, and of course, Donald Trump there responding quickly and in his

usual colorful language.

Let's talk about something else. You said at the beginning, the pope doesn't shy away from controversial topics, but it appears as though when

it came to the topic of Zika, the Zika virus, he may have been relaxing some guidelines on contraception, what did he have to say about that?

FLORES: You know, Pope Francis, there's precedent for things like this. There are times in history where, you know, the church historically has

loosened the rules, not that they're changing doctrine by any means.

He said in the past, for example, Pope Paul VI allowed nuns to take contraception in Africa to stop pregnancy after the nuns were being raped.

[15:20:06]And so he quoted that in history to say this, he said, contraception is the lesser of the two evils. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned to

blessed Paul VI was clear, I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against the mosquitos that carry this disease. This needs to

be worked on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: So again, this would only be temporary, and Pope Francis said it in that sound bite that you just heard. The cure, the thing to do is to

find a vaccine for this virus -- Hala.

GORANI: All right, Rosa Flores live in Rome, thanks very much. And we'll return to Trump and the pope later this hour. How will voters react to the

exchange between the leader of the Catholic Church and the man atop the Republican polls? I'll ask a CNN political commentator.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: All right, well, it's is a crucial day for the European Union, leaders are meeting in Brussels right now for what the European Council

leaders say is a make or break summit. The topic, this country, Britain, should it remain in the European Union or should it exit the so-called

"brexit."

David Cameron wants other to agree reforms before he puts it to a public vote. He was in a bullish mood when he spoke about it earlier, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We've got important work to do today and tomorrow and it's going to be hard. I'll be battling for Britain

if we can get a good deal, I'll take the deal, but I will not take a deal that doesn't meet what we need. I think it's much more important to get

this right than to do anything in a rush. But with goodwill, hard work, we can get a better deal for Britain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: The leaders are discussing a deal of sorts agreed by David Cameron and E.U. Council Leader Donald Tusk (ph). Here's what Britain wants.

Among the reforms on the stable, a return of sovereignty to London, Cameron wants to reassurance that the U.K. will not be forced to be more involved

in the E.U. than it wants to be.

Another, and this is important for David Cameron and those who oppose greater relinquishing of sovereignty to the EU, limiting migrants access to

social benefits in this country for the first four years after they alive and this could be a major sticking point in negotiations.

Let's cross live to Brussels, CNN Money's Europe editor, Nina Dos Santos joins me now live with more. All right, so simple question, is Cameron

going to get what he wants in Brussels today?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN MONEY EUROPE EDITOR: The 28 answers to actually come to that conclusion, and they all have to be unanimous, Hala, and that is

exactly what's going on in the building behind me.

We have those European leaders, 28 heads of state that make up this particular block. Having a working dinner at the moment.

I understand they're having a dinner of (inaudible) and potatoes which sounds officially enough like a very posh way of saying, fish and chips,

which is a very typical British dish.

David Cameron has embarked upon this enormous political gamble internationally and domestically as well to silence the skeptics within his

own conservative party back home.

[15:25:05]People here in Brussels are very aware there's domestic politics that play as much as international politics, however, with significant

consequences for all.

This particular meeting in the culmination of no more than fewer than 20 speed charming meetings that David Cameron has been embarking upon in the

last month or so. This is what's at stake and what's been achieved so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Crisscrossing the continent, shaking hands at a time showing his teeth.

CAMERON: We want to have a Europe where we're not into a superstate, but we can be proud and independent.

DOS SANTOS: David Cameron has plowed on with his efforts to secure reform of the E.U. Concessions which he hopes will convince his country to stay

in the union, on its own terms.

CAMERON: Europe that is competitive. We want a Europe that respects our currency and treats us fairly.

DOS SANTOS: Behind the scenes and in front of the cameras, experts laid them on the table. Acting out here how a British exit or brexit would play

out in complex negotiations, and it isn't pretty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not you're out, you would be out once you come to an agreement with European Union.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Europe is a disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not going to be saved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an absolutely devastating decision that Britain has taken.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): The E.U. is the U.K.'s biggest export market taking in about 44 percent of its goods and services every year. But that

share has been dwindling over the past decade.

What's more, the UK runs a deficit with Europe and trade surplus with other faster growing economies, which is why some suggest the nation could afford

to go it alone.

MALCOLM RILLIAND, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: You have people at either end of the debate, some desperate to leave, some desperate to stay,

most find what is in the long-term interest.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): But leaving the E.U. could cost the country dear, up to 3 percent of its GDP according to some surveys as free trade deals

become void and terrorists return. Goldman Sachs reckons the pound could plunge 20 percent.

But the rest of the E.U., a U.K. departure wouldn't just mean lost growth, it could set a dangerous precedent for others eyeing up the exit door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is dangerous because it would be the first time that the right to succession would occur. But it's a bad signal.

DOS SANTOS: Which mean either way this referendum won't redefine Britain's relationship with its neighbors, but test the ties that bind the entire

block.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Now, Hala, earlier you mentioned those two thorny issues as before David Cameron is going for. Particularly limiting ply grants

benefits across the United Kingdom. That has four eastern European countries u in arms.

And getting them on board will be crucial, as much as getting France on board to try and make sure that the U.K. isn't getting special treatment

here. Those are going to be the kind of things that are playing in the room behind me.

I understand that it's likely that we'll only really hear the full nuts and bolts of any agreement about 11:00 a.m. tomorrow morning when they have a

breakfast meeting.

Interestingly enough again, many (inaudible) that's British, it'll be an English breakfast. Let's see whether the English side, British side gets

what they want out of it.

GORANI: All right. We'll see what they have for breakfast, will it be German pastries or English breakfast tea. We'll make a whole thing out of

what they decided to have for breakfast. Nina Dos Santos in Brussels following this important story for us, thanks very much.

And do stay tuned because on the program we have a very interesting discussion later on in the show. I will be speaking to two MPs from the

same party, the conservative party, they have different opinions on the E.U. One says the U.K. should stay in, the other says the U.K. should

leave.

First though, we'll return to the war in Syria. Amid accusations hospitals are being intentionally targeted by war planes, I'll ask "Newsweek's"

Middle East editor where she thinks the battle lines are being drawn and I'll have her with more on a new book she has out on her time in Syria.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:31:30]

GORANI: Welcome back, a look at our top stories. Turkey is striking back after a deadly bombing in Ankara.

(HEADLINES)

GORANI: Back to Syria. Civilians fleeing by the thousands. Allegations that hospitals are intentionally being targeted in a government that's making

major gains. It certainly feels like we might be seeing a turning point in Syria's civil war. Earlier this hour I spoke with a senior Assad advisor

exclusively here on CONN. I asked her whether there was any truth to Medicines Sans Frontier's claims that hospitals are being intentionally

bombed by the regime and its allies, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOUTHAINA SHAABAN, SR. ADVISOR TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSAD: Give me one good reason why the Russians or the Syrians would attack any hospital. Our

hospitals have been destroyed by the terrorists, our schools, our colleges have been destroyed. No way the Syrian Army or the regime aircraft would

target any civilian, any hospital. No way they would target anybody except the terrorists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: A firm denial there coming from Bouthaina Shaaban. My next guest is Janine Di Giovanni, she's the Middle East editor at News Week magazine.

She's also the author of a new book, "The Morning They Came For Us" dispatchers from Syria, and she's live with me in the studio.

Janine good to see you here in London. So looking through your book, I mean it's just a collection of just stories of people who were going about their

lives, and who then end up in the clutches of a regime, some are tortured, others disappear and later reemerge. You were, when you started writing

this book angry about what happened in your coverage of Bosnia.

JANINE DI GIOVANNI, MIDDLE EAST EDITOR, NEWS WEEK MAGAZINE: Yes.

GORANI: And then someone told you if you don't want to be angry anymore, don't go to Syria, but you went.

GIOVANNI: Yes, I think what I tried to do with this book is to really let Syrian people tell the story of how their country descended into an abyss.

And also to try to make the point about how quickly war comes. How quickly it overtakes people's lives, and the next thing they know, they can't send

their kids to school. There's no water, there's no electricity. But I tried to get a cross section. I started out working in Damascus or working on the

regime side. And then I tried to cross over and to see the other side.

GORANI: And this is in 2012.

GIOVANNI: 2012 until I kept going back and reporting until, until as late as, until last December 2015, so it's three years.

[15:35:00]

GORANI: And the epilogue is in that year in 201. Now what I -- and I remember one of the pieces you wrote it was either for News Week or maybe

it was for the Daily Beast, I can't remember, but it was an astonishing piece. Some areas in Damascus living in a bubble where you have parts of

the country in really terrible situation in terms of the of the conflict and others just kind of living in a surreal bubble.

GIOVANNI: I think what I was doing there, it was in the New York Times actually, and it was just at the beginning of the war. And i remember going

one day to the front line in Homs with soldiers from the Assad regime who were kids basically, but they were just in the middle of the big battle for

Homs. And two days later, I was sitting in Damascus going to the opera in one of the most beautiful opera houses in the Middle East. And it was

almost as though there was this surreal denial that war was coming to this country, that it was very quickly going to implode.

GORANI: And so, what - I mean, throughout your reporting there, what is the thing, you see this as a similar situation to the Balkans for instance.

GIOVANNI: I try -- I've been reporting war like you for a very long time, more than two decades, and initially there were many similarities I saw

with the Bosnian conflict, the former Yugoslavia and Syria. Mainly the ethnic divisions, the sectarian divisions, the human rights abuse, the

crimes against humanity. Increasingly though, I feel that this conflict is something else because it has become -

GORANI: In what way?

GIOVANNI: It's been a proxy war. As we know it is no longer really about the Syrian people. It's become a war about Turkey, about Russia, about

Saudi, about Iran, about the Russians. Since September 30th, and Hala, you know this, the Russian involvement has really upped the ante completely.

And they're hitting of civilian targets has turned it into a completely different kind of war. Also the dimension of ISIS. That's something that

really didn't arise in Bosnia. So it's been a very complicated and protracted war to cover.

GORANI: And as I mentioned your epilogue was in 2015, so you continued to report up until very late last year. So what now for Syria? I mean is it -

is it solvable? Or do we have another few decades of war? Even if the very active portion of the conflict kind of wanes because one side helped by the

Russians is making strong gains do we then see kind of a bubbling, continuing gorilla rebel war insurgency war?

GIOVANNI: I mean there are analysts who think that this could be similar to the Lebanese civil war and go on for 17 years. I think at this point,

diplomacy is in a stalemate, we know that. The Geneva talks failed, the Munich ceasefire - ceasefire to me from being spending so much time on the

ground really means that it's only time for the victors, the guys that are winning to take more ground or to regroup, re-strategize, have a new plan

for their military push.

Aleppo is almost completely besieged. I don't see -- I hope the cessation of hostilities holds, but I don't see hope, nor do I see much hope for a

diplomatic solution. I think Russia has the power right now and the leverage to pressure Assad to do the right thing.

GORANI: But does it have the will to do it?

GIOVANNI: I don't -- there's no political will at the moment.

GORANI: "Well The Morning They Came For Us," Janine di Giovanni dispatches from Syria, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck with your book.

GIOVANNI: Thanks, Hala.

GORANI: Always a pleasure talking to you. And to viewers by the way, you can check out our Facebook page. We'll post more of our interviews, more

analysis as well, you can go to Facebook.com/halagorani. And here what you see yesterday by the way Janine, you were with us for our Paris coverage.

We won a Royal Television Society Award.

GIOVANNI: Fantastic. Brilliant.

GORANI: For that. An absolute tragedy, but I have to say that -- and it was a very emotional story to cover as someone who grew up in Paris. But

our team really came together and I'm very proud of the work we did.

GIOVANNI: Congratulations.

GORANI: And thanks for being with us as well. We'll be right back on CNN.

Well after multiple slug fests on a crowded stage, three American Republican Presidential hopefuls have the floor to themselves at a CNN Town

Hall in South Carolina. They were Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: They sat down with Anderson Cooper taking questions from the audience. They have less than 48 hours to put a dent in Donald Trump's big

lead in that state before the primary begins there. For the most part, they stayed above the fray of winning personal attacks and focusing on policy,

but they did get in a few jabs. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are following this pattern that whenever anyone points to their

actual record, to what they've said, to what they've voted on, to what they've done, they start screaming liar, liar, liar. I mean, it is the

oddest thing.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well I've said he's been lying, because if you say something that isn't true or you say it over and

over again, and you know that is not true there's no other word for it. And when it's about your record you have to clear it up, because if you don't

then people say well then it must be true. He didn't dispute it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: A lot to talk about from that Town Hall, but first we want to get some reaction to the extraordinary back and forth between Donald Trump and

Pope Francis.

[15:40:05]

CNN political commentator, S.E. Cupp, joins us from Columbia, South Carolina.

S.E. Cupp, if I told you a few weeks ago we were going to have a tit for tat conversation between the Pope and Donald Trump, would you have believed

it?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. It's craziness. I mean, the news today was nothing short of remarkable. For lots of reasons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUPP: One, that the Pope, the pontiff really weighed in to American politics, and not just political issues, but an election so readily. And I

think from at least where I stood, so casually. You know, he's standing on the plane taking questions from reporters, and just sort of readily

delivers this answer on Donald Trump was remarkable. We've not seen Popes of the past really talk a lot about American politics as he did. And then

to see Donald Trump go right back at the Pope, just, you know, an hour later, was, I mean, nothing short of remarkable. And in an already crazy

election season, it just keeps - it just keeps getting crazier.

GORANI: But you know, religion is a big topic of discussion. It's very important to conservative voters as well. So if one of them was revered

religious leaders in the world, and I -- you know, you could say probably in history, Pope Francis is extremely popular across religions, across

generations, across continents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: He is saying, of Donald Trump, without naming him, you know, naming him directly, but implying about him, he's not a Christian if he wants to

build a wall and deport immigrants. How is that going to affect Donald Trump's campaign?

S.E. CUPP: Well, a couple things. I'm here in South Carolina where Republicans will decide this weekend on Saturday, South Carolina, among all

the states when it comes to having the largest catholic population, South Carolina ranks 49th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

S.E. CUPP: So there actually isn't a huge catholic presence here in the state, it's most Evangelicals. So I'm not sure that South Carolina's really

going to be impacted.

But, I mean you mentioned how popular the Pope is, that's certainly true. But Republicans, Republican voters have a different opinion. They remember

when he came to the United States, he talked to congress and sort of lectured Republicans on climate change and capitalism, you know, there's a

little distrust in some conservative evangelical circles for the Pope.

So what you actually saw today, if you were on twitter for all of this, was a lot of people coming to Donald Trump's defense, and even Jeb Bush, when

given the opportunity to weigh in on this and sort of slam Trump, kind of took it easy and said look, you know, I'm not going to question someone's

Christianity. He says he's a question, he's a Christian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Speaking of Jeb Bush, all right, and John Kasich and also Ben Carson, now they're trailing in the polls ahead of South Carolina. Rubio is

third. What happens if after South Carolina here, these three candidates, the last - the bottom three, don't improve on these scores when the votes

come in and are counted? I mean are they going to have to then just really seriously reevaluate whether they still stay in?

S.E. CUPP: Well Carson you know has been polling pretty low for a long time. So I'm not sure what it's going to take to you know get him out of

the race. He just seems to keep wanting to go. John Kasich, I have always thought has been playing for veep anyway. He's a very attractive vice

presidential candidate coming from an important state like Ohio. He's been nice to every other candidate, I think that's intentional.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

S.E. CUPP: So I think really, he's been, he's been playing for veep. The real high stakes are for Jeb Bush who has put a lot of play in South

Carolina. The Bush name is still popular in South Carolina. Republicans here are moderate. And therefore open to a more establishment pick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S.E. CUPP: If he can't pull out a third place finish, it's going to look real tough for him. It'll be tough for him to make the case that he's

electable somewhere.

GORANI: All right, S.E. Cupp, always appreciate your analysis and coming on the program. And we will speak to you soon. Thanks very much.

S.E. CUPP: Sure.

GORANI: Now you've heard the first group of Republican candidates make their case, don't miss round two of our South Carolina Town Hall. John

Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump are up next, Friday at 11:00 a.m. In London, only on CNN and we have much more ahead this hour, stay with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:46:42]

GORANI: Well, it's a crucial time for Europe. We were telling you earlier, leaders are meeting in Brussels right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: There's some very important talks goings on there over Britain's continued membership in the European Union bloc. The British public will

decide in a referendum whether they stay in or not. It was promised by their Prime Minister. This referendum could occur potentially as early as

June.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: I'm joined in the studio by two conservative MPs who are members of the same party, but have very different views. Bill Cash who is in favor of

leaving the European Union joins me. Nick Herbert is in favor of staying. Thanks to both of you for being with us.

I'm going to start with you, Bill Cash, first of all.

BILL CASH, U.K. CONSERVATIVE M.P: Hi, yes.

GORANI: Why leave the E.U? Isn't it a great negotiating block? Doesn't it make the U.K. just remain part of a bigger block that has more bargaining

power?

CASH: Well it sounds like that. I voted yes in 1975. But I led then led the rebellion against John Major's treaty, which actually provided for European

governments. And that's where the big difference came. Because actually, we have a right to govern ourselves, make our own laws. We certainly want

trade and political corporation in Europe, and I'm all for that. But if you look at the trade figures, we run a deficit in goods and services of 60

billion a year.

Germany on the other hand runs a surplus of 67 billion. Now so much for the single market. We run the whole thing at a loss. 40% of our trade is with

Europe, but we're getting a world surplus, now, in the rest of the world, of around 36 billion. So actually we've got big opportunities, and if you

think about it, you've got countries throughout the commonwealth, you've got Australia, Canada, America. And by the way, would the Americans

actually fancy the idea of being governed by a majority vote of other countries?

GORANI: Well, America is a much bigger economy and a much more powerful country militarily.

CASH: Well, no, but we're quite an important country you know.

GORANI: Yes, can I get Nick Herbert. You are - you are a Conservative Member of Parliament, yet you favor staying inside the E.U. why do you have

a different opinion?

NICK HERBERT, U.K. CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Well firstly, I mean the great thing is that David Cameron has delivered a vote on this. You

know, he has said that there will be a referendum, parliament is legislated for that. Lots of people didn't believe him. You know they said before the

last election, he'll never give that referendum. Actually he has, and now everyone has the choice. So Bill and I will probably disagree about this

issue but we --

GORANI: But why stay in, why do you consider --

HERBERT: One, each of our constituencies, we'll just be one in tens of thousands of votes. So the whole public is going to have a say. I think we

should stay in because we are members of the world's greatest market, the single market is 500 million people, it gives us enormous training

opportunities and an advantageous position for our businesses by being in that market. So I think it's good for jobs, for the economy.

And of course we're very successful at the moment. Britain has one of the fastest growth rates in the world. We created jobs very fast, so we're

doing well in the market, and I think why put that at risk for a leap into the dark? Because we don't actually know what life outside of this market

would be. And it could be very disadvantageous for this.

GORANI: Let me ask Bill Cash about that. JP Morgan, I mean big corporations are saying if the U.K. exits the E.U., we would consider not

just relocating some of our operations, but completely exiting the U.K. market as far as their headquarters are concerned. This is too much of a

risk, isn't it for your country to just say we're leaving?

[15:50:05]

CASH: Well actually just no. Because if you look at the City of London and the regulatory arrangements that have been made. There are a whole stack of

very big companies who want to exit. And actually, talking about JP Morgan, actually, if people talk about Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan in this

context, it's the British voter who is going to decide. They're not going to be very impressed if I may say so even if their very distinguished

American bankers.

And actually you know, the bottom line is in the regulatory, financial regulatory field, we've taken five cases to the European Court of Justice,

and we've lost every one of them. You see, the point is this, that the regulations are not really working for the United Kingdom. That's the key

point.

GORANI: Nick Herbert, how do you respond to that? Because these are -- these are hard facts right here.

HERBERT: Well, I don't think it's right to say well this is just a few bankers. I mean if you're working for one of these banks, if you're working

in the financial services sector that you know employs 2 million people in this country, you mind a lot about this, and you worry if you've got the

leaders of the institutions saying look, we are mobile, we could move. And the danger for that is that if we aren't in a single market, they are not

going to be protected from discriminatory regulations.

So HSBC said that just this week. They said look, we can move our jobs to Paris, and I would say, we're doing well outside of the Eurozone, but in

the - sort of in the single market. We are outside the Schengen passport less free areas so we protect our borders, but we are in this huge trading

block. Why put that at risk when we already have the best of both worlds?

GORANI: What do you think about that?

CASH: Well, he just said it twice, he said it before and now he's saying it again. He says it's a massive risk. I'm saying it's a massive judgment.

And actually, being governed by a majority vote and actually losing every single vote that takes place in the way of which we normally do, and

actually, not being able to influence in the way that other people suggest. Take, for example, this trade that, transatlantic partnership deal. That's

run by the European Commission, it's not run by us. We're not in control of our own trading arrangements, they're run by the European Commission.

GORANI: Nick Herbert, can I ask you, you're in favor of staying within the E.U. But why not then just go all the way? Adopt the Euro, just become a

full-fledged member in the same way Germany and France are members of the E.U.?

HERBERT: Well, I led the campaign 15 years ago to stop Britain joining the Euro because I thought it would be economically --

CASH: Do it again - do it again then.

HERBERT: I would be -- I thought it would be economically bad for us to be a member of the single currency and bad for Europe as well actually. I

think we were proved right about that. But what that showed is that actually we can have a special status. The U.K. can be outside of the

arrangements, but still in the market. So I actually, you know, I don't think it would be right to be fully in, and I don't think it's what the

public wants --

GORANI: You want the best of both worlds would you say?

HERBERT: Yes, and we've got the best of both worlds, why give that up?

GORANI: But, what I don't, and Sir Bill Cash, let me ask you about the Confederation of British Industry, could they -- could 71% of business

members of the CBI be wrong when they say there are many more benefits to being a member of the E.U. than to being out of it. We're worried if you

take us out of the E.U.?

CASH: Thanks for that question, it's a gift. The CBI have actually said in the past, I used to be a legal advisor to the CBI, I know how they work.

Can I say this, Digby Jones, who used to be the Director General of the CBI has made his position absolutely clear. He doesn't want us to stay in the

European Union. And by the way, the fact is these companies are completely different from what I call the small or medium size businesses throughout

the country.

GORANI: (inaudible) net benefit they say of up to 78 billion pounds a year.

CASH: I think we could seriously question their figures. They've come at it the -- didn't they get the Euro right? They said we've got to go into the

ERM, we've got to go into the Euro, the single currency, they were completely wrong on that as on so many other things.

GORANI: The referendum, do you think in or out? I've got to get you on that, Nick Herbert?

HERBERT: I think in the end, the British public will weigh things up. I think they will hear the arguments, I think the British people have got

great common sense, and I think they'll say, actually things look good as at the moment. We don't want to take this risk.

GORANI: And just in one word --

CASH: Out.

GORANI: OK. Sir Bill Cash, Nick Herbert, thanks to both of you. Appreciate your time on CNN. We'll be right back after a quick break. Stay

with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:55:20]

GORANI: The race for the White House is about to head west. Nevada should be interesting for democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are neck and neck there. CNN's Jonathan Mann shows us why this state is so important.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Nevada caucuses could turn into an old fashion wild west showdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at Nevada, it's a (inaudible) of our country. It is what America's all about.

MANN: It's the first contest of the campaign calendar held in the western U.S. Democrats turn out February 20th, Republicans three days later.

It's relatively new to the process, Nevada's first caucus was just in 2004, but now It's seen as a critical battleground for Bernie Sanders and Hillary

Clinton fighting to win over an elected war more diverse than Iowa or New Hampshire. With more Hispanic and African American voters.

While the state is geographically large, the race will likely be won or lost in just one city. Las Vegas. Sin City, and the surrounding Clark

County are home to nearly three quarters of the state's population. Recent history suggests Nevada is Clinton country. Hillary Clinton narrowly won

the vote in the 2008 caucus, though Clinton carried the state in both the '92 and '96 elections, helping him win the White House both times.

The Sanders campaign hopes to change that. Spending millions on T.V. ads in both English and Spanish, and adding at least 50 staffers and 11 offices

across the state. Nevada Senator, Harry Reid tells CNN the race in his home state is too tight to call.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: I expect it to be very close.

MANN: You think it's a toss-up?

REID: I think it's going to be very close.

MANN: Odds makers agree, giving both Clinton and Sanders a 50/50 chance of winning. We'll find out which candidate hits the Nevada jackpot on

Saturday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Sorry, I was just reading ahead, a town in rural Australia is fighting a nasty invader, and they called it, the hairy panic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: And you can see why. Huge tumble weeds are forming due to the dry weather conditions. And homeowners are forced to do battle with them and

they can even be deadly for sheep if eaten in large quantities.

All right. Thanks for watching "The World Right Now," I'm Hala Gorani. "Quest Means Business" is next.