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G7 Summit Comes Ahead Of Tillerson-Lavrov Meeting; Britain Pushes For New Sanctions On Russia And Syria; Battling ISIS From The Skies; Pyongyang Reacts To U.S. Syria Strike; Mourners Bury Victims Of Egypt Church Bombings; Le Pen's Holocaust Comments Spark Outrage; France Still Struggling with High Youth Unemployment; Video Shows Passenger Forcibly Removed from Flight. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 10, 2017 - 15:00   ET





HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani live in the (inaudible) news capital, just a few dozen kilometers away from

the Syrian capital of Damascus. We'll have a lot more on the day's news regarding Syria, the G7, and much more. Stay with us.

Well, it wasn't too long ago that Russia had a seat at the G7 Summit but no more. In fact, the G7 countries are trying to figure out a way to present

a united front against Russia when it comes to Syria and what's been going on there.

Ministers are debating what lies ahead for the war ravaged country. Moscow's unwavering support for the Assad regime even after a suspected

chemical attack has put Russia at odds with the United States and its G7 allies.

Last week's missile strike on a Syrian airbase sent a clear signal that the Trump administration is prepared to intervene more. That it would step up

its involvement in the conflict. Now U.S. allies are wondering what comes next as we all are.

Earlier the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, visited a memorial for victims of war crimes in Italy, and he used the opportunity to send a

thinly veiled message to Moscow and Damascus.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in

the world. This place will serve as an inspiration to us all.


GORANI: Well, in the last hour, we heard from the U.S. press secretary, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer. It was a fascinating press

briefing. We are going to unpack it a little bit later.

But here's what he had to say when asked about the conflict in Syria and potential escalation. Listen to Spicer.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you watch babies and children being gassed and suffer under barrel bombs, you are

instantaneously moved to action. I think this president has made it very clear that if those actions were to continue, further action will

definitely be considered by the United States.


GORANI: I'm going straight to our reporters. All right, Phil Black is in Moscow. Nic Robertson is following that G7 Summit in Italy. Saying we are

going straight to our reporters there because I'd like sort of more details there also coming from Nic Robertson, first, if I could turn to you.

On what these G7 allies plan to do with regards to Russia? We know Rex Tillerson is going to Moscow. We've heard some of the statements. We also

heard from Sean Spicer there. What have they come with? What kind of united front have they been able to agree on?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Rex Tillerson there and we heard him speaking about memorial, 560 villagers and refugees,

August 1944, killed in the space of three hours by Nazi forces, a 130 of them children.

Now we are told he put that on his agenda specifically said that he wanted to attend it, spend more time that was originally anticipated. That event

very, very clear messaging.

But the foreign ministers who have come here from Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Canada as well have also come with their own clear

understanding of what their own country's positions are.

But he also want to understand what the nuances are of the United States position now on Assad, ISIS, and Iran's involvement in Syria. But we've

also heard from the British foreign secretary today who canceled his own trip.

He was due to go to Moscow today, but he canceled his own trip so he said that he could build a sort of a unified position at the G7 to give support

to Secretary Tillerson. He said the message that he wants Tillerson to take to Moscow is one that President Putin needs to step aside from

supporting President Assad in Syria.

[15:05:08]This is what Boris Johnson said.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: If I think about the position of Vladimir Putin now, he's -- you know, he's toxifying his -- the reputation

of Russia by his continuing association of the guy who has flagrantly poisoned his own people.

And so what we are trying to do is to give Rex Tillerson the clearest possible mandate from us as the west, the U.K., all our allies here, to say

to the Russians, this is your choice. Stick with that guy, stick with that tyrant or work with us to find a better solution.


ROBERTSON: So aside from those brief lines we heard from Secretary Tillerson earlier and from Boris Johnson there, there hasn't been a unified

statement from here yet. However, quite extraordinarily, the foreign ministers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates and Jordan, all

invited here tomorrow so that this position can be broadened beyond the G7 and perhaps after that, we will get some kind of formalized statement over

what's been agreed. Some definition of the way ahead -- Hala.

GORANI: And Phil Black, it's going to be crucial what message Rex Tillerson brings with him. Now some people expressed surprise that he did

not have, that there was not a meeting with President Putin on the agenda. Is that likely to change?

PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's an interesting point, Hala. If you remember famously that Rex Tillerson, the former

ExxonMobil CEO back in 2013, was given a friendship award by Putin. Here we are a day or so away from his visit, and he still doesn't have a

confirmed appointment with the Russian president.

It's his first visit as U.S. secretary of state. This is according to the kremlin. Now they say it could change, but at the moment as it stands, his

key meeting will be with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

And I don't think we can expect too many smiles there either. If we take what Nic is describing there as the likely way forward for Tillerson,

bringing the momentum of recent events with him, the chemical weapons incident, the military strike from the U.S. coordinated international


In addition to perhaps some carrots and sticks, threats and incentive, to try and use all of that is leverage to persuade Russia to pull back from

its support of Assad. Well, that is hugely ambitious, but you just have to say not particularly likely.

If you consider just how quickly Russia responded in its defense of Syria over the most recent chemical weapons allegations, and then take into

account everything that Russia has done over the entire course of the Syrian civil war to shield and protect the Syrian regime through enormous

international pressure --

GORANI: But I was going to say, Phil, if I could jump in, this isn't the White House of Barack Obama, it's a different White House. They acted

after that suspected chemical attack that they blamed on the regime. They even today through their press secretary, the administration is saying, if

there's more chemical attacks even barrel bomb attacks, we might intervene further. This changes things pretty fundamentally or not between the U.S.

and Russia?

BLACK: There is some tough language, which very closely represents the tough language of the Obama administration, but you're right, the key

difference is the fact that the Trump administration is showing that it is willing to strike at the very least in a limited focused way.

And that gives -- against the Assad regime, I should say, and that gives both Moscow and Damascus something to think about going forward. But of

course, it doesn't necessarily change anything, if that is the limit of the degree to which America is now prepared to act.

If you think about everything that Russia and Damascus together had been able to do over the last five years then still -- I think they are still

just very little reason to believe they're going to be changing their behavior in the near future when you think not only have they been doing it

and getting away with it.

But also achieving their goals whether it's propping up the regime, ensuring Russia's influence in Syria and the wider Middle East. But also

preventing the U.S. and the west from getting what it wants, which has been regime change for such a long time now.

Russia's foreign policy doesn't swerve quickly based upon humanitarian concerns in the west. It's difficult to see how it's likely to change over

the coming week.

GORANI: All right, Phil Black in Moscow, Nic Robertson at the G7 Summit in Luca, Italy, thanks very much.

Clarissa Ward, our senior international correspondent, is at the border of Turkey and Syria, not far from that borderline, and she joins us now live.

I wonder if in the region, especially after what we've been hearing from the like of Sean Spicer, the press secretary, there is the belief that

perhaps this is no longer just a one-off event what happened against that Shayrat airbase in Central Syria last week. But perhaps that the Trump

administration is perhaps considering further intervention.

[15:10:01]CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Hala, there is a lot of confusion because the initial assumption was

that this was likely a one-time event that President Donald Trump had essentially boxed himself into a corner by calling out the chemical attack

and saying it crossed a lot of lines. It crossed red lines.

And that he perhaps felt forced to do something, but listening to Sean Spicer in that press conference, it does appear they are starting to be

something of a pivot in the U.S.-Syria policy. I should hasten to add that it is not clear yet exactly what that policy looks like.

But I think the main thing that he said and it's possible that he is simply spoke incorrectly or did not understand what he was saying, but he seemed

to indicate on three separate occasions that the use of barrel bombs was almost on par with the use of chemical weapons.

Both of which have used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad as being sort of crimes that the U.S. would respond to. Now whereas chemical weapons have

been used relatively and frequently, barrel bombs have been used almost incessantly in Syria.

So if indeed he was speaking sincerely and understanding what he was saying, and if indeed the U.S. is willing to respond to the use of barrel

bombs potentially with strikes or with some kind of military response, that would be a significant escalation.

At the same time, he also reiterated the idea that the primary focus of U.S. policy in Syria is the removal of ISIS. This is the priority, not the

removal of Bashar al-Assad, and he wouldn't really be drawn on the specifics of whether or not Assad could remain in power, Hala. So a very

confusing picture, I would say.

GORANI: Right. Certainly, and even when asked why are you or the president is upset about pictures of children being gassed, but not opening

American doors to Syrian refugees, he then again reiterated that stated policy that ISIS is a priority and by combatting ISIS, the United States is

in fact alleviating the suffering of Syrian refugees. And that's one of the points that the White House has been trying to telegraph.

But let's talk about the fight against ISIS because we are going to go next to Fred Pleitgen story from the air over parts of the Middle East where

ISIS holds territory. Where does that leave cooperation between the U.S. and Russia against the terrorist group?

WARD: Well, I think we are not going to get any clarity on that until we see Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sit down with his Russian counterpart,

Sergey Lavrov, and really try to hash out some kind of consensus or agreement.

Because it's been a bit of a he said, she said, as to whether this deconfliction channel as it's called whereby Americans and Russians can

communicate with each other about which planes they might have in the skies to avoid any sort of mid-air collision.

About whether that deconfliction channel is continuing to be used, whether it continues to be open or whether its very existence is threatened by the

U.S. action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

If the deconfliction channel does for some reason come to an end or that understanding or agreement comes to an end, this would make it extremely

difficult for the U.S. to go about its fight against ISIS because the reality is the Russians have a huge presence on the ground in Syria.

They have extremely sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry. They are flying many sorties out of various bases in and around the region. So this would

be a very difficult one to surmount if indeed that deconfliction channel comes to an end -- Hala.

GORANI: And as you mentioned, we'll hopefully get more details after Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow. Clarissa Ward, thanks so much for joining us

there with more perspective.

And I mentioned, Fred Pleitgen there a little teaser, exclusive reporting from our Fred Pleitgen. He is in the skies over Syria with U.S. troops

there in their bombing missions against ISIS targets. Take a look.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Faced with new Russian threats, the U.S. military not backing down in the

skies over Iraq and Syria. We are on a KC10 tanker plane refueling the fighters pounding ISIS.

(on camera): Of course, there are some tensions since the Russians have announced they don't want to communicate with the U.S. anymore in the skies

over Syria. That's why cruise like this would take great care when they fly into Syrian air space.

(voice-over): Stopping the communications significantly increases the risk of mid-air collisions over this crowded air space where U.S. coalition and

Russian planes operate very close to one another.

Russia made the move after America hit a Syrian air field with cruise missiles last week. A response to a chemical attack on a Syrian village

killing around 90 people. Washington blamed the Assad regime, Russia's main ally in the civil war there even as Syria denies being behind the


[15:15:08]But America doesn't want the turmoil to affect the ongoing effort to destroy ISIS.

(on camera): Despite the current tensions with Russia, the U.S. says that the fight against ISIS has to continue (inaudible) especially with

Americans and allied forces on the ground and in harm's way.

(voice-over): A sentiment echoed by commanders leading the air war against ISIS.

BRIG. GENERAL CHARLES CORCORAN, U.S. AIR FORCE: We can't take our eye off the ball that is ISIS. That's why we are here. I mean, our national

leadership decided to do something about a problem that they saw and if we're asked to help out with something like that, we are obviously ready to

do it. But right now, ISIS is (inaudible).

PLEITGEN: So far the U.S. says there have been no incidents involving Russian planes over Iraq and Syria, and they hope despite Russia's rhetoric

that it stays that way. Fred Pleitgen, CNN aboard a KC10 refueling jet over Iraq and Syria.


GORANI: All right, well, P.J. Crowley, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state and the author of "Red Line" joins me now, and political

commentator, Josh Rogin is also with us. Thanks very much, Gentlemen, for joining us.

P.J. Crowley first, I want to ask you about Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow. You did not have very kind words for Rex Tillerson saying he's

been quite silent. He very rarely speaks to the press. We don't really know what he is thinking or what the strategy is. But this is a big deal

this visit to Moscow, how do you think it will unfold?

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It's a big deal. A lot will depend on whether he sees Vladimir Putin. If he does, it's

going to be an unpleasant conversation. Vladimir Putin has been nursing a series of perceived grievances for some time and he's likely lay those out

for the new secretary of state.

I think Rex Tillerson had a good week last week as did, you know, the Trump administration was the most conventional, you know, week from a foreign

policy standpoint that they've had, but it doesn't mean that the challenges they face whether we are talking about Syria, Russia, North Korea are any

easier to resolve.

GORANI: But P.J. Crowley, I mean, initially when Donald Trump was elected, the analysis from so many of the experts was here's a man, a president who

is more sympathetic to Russia than Hillary Clinton ever would have been and Vladimir Putin must be delighted that Donald Trump was elected and it's now

in the White House. Has that changed or was that never really the case?

CROWLEY: Well, I think if you listen to, you know, the president's key foreign policy advisers, H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, you

know, and so forth, Nikki Haley, they are rightfully critical of what Russia is doing on many fronts not just Ukraine and Syria, but also

interfering with the American election, European politics.

You know, last week put a dent in the Trump administration narrative that there can be this more constructive relationship with Russia and Vladimir

Putin, the lone hold-out at this point is the president himself.

GORANI: All right, and Josh Rogin, I want to replay, by the way -- I want to tell our viewers, they may have heard this at the very top of the hour,

but replay a Sean Spice, the White House press secretary, sound bite, something he said that caught the attention of many of us who observed

Syria and U.S. policy towards Syria now about what would prompt or what could trigger further U.S. military intervention. Listen.


SPICER: When you watch babies and children being gassed and suffer under barrel bombs, you are instantaneously moved to action. I think this

president has made it very clear that if those actions were to continue, further action will definitely be considered by the United States.


GORANI: So Josh Rogin, chemical weapons, we'd heard that before, barrel bombs, correct if I'm wrong, I've never heard a U.S. official says barrel

bombs could trigger military intervention. Did he misspeak or is it hugely significant?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he misspoke and I think the administration will get around to cleaning that up sooner rather than

later. I mean, what --

GORANI: But he said it four times, sorry to interrupt, he said it four times. It would be four times misspeaking.

ROGIN: Which it wouldn't be rare for this White House or this press secretary. I mean, let's face it, over the last four days, we've seen four

different officials give four totally contradictory messages about what the purpose of the strikes, what they achieved and what's the path going


General H.R. McMaster say that it was just to send a message. You had Nikki Haley say that regime change is one of our priorities, and then you

had Rex Tillerson say that the priority is the fight against ISIS.

And what we see is a basic lack of any clear and coherent message coming from the administration, to the public, Congress, allies, Russia, Assad

regime, and it's causing a lot of confusion both inside the system and outside the system.

[15:20:04]And you know, let's think about what that would mean if Sean Spicer was serious that the U.S. is going to retaliate militarily every

time Assad drops a barrel bomb. Well, that means we'd be attacking Syria pretty much all day every day and obviously that's not something that Trump

is willing to do.

So the only reasonable conclusion is that, you know, he is making stuff up and he doesn't know what he's -- you know, it's not a policy that they've

ever contemplated. So I think, you know, what we're seeing is that they made this momentous decision kind of on a lark to send these Tomahawk

missiles into Syria and now they are trying to figure what it means.

I think a lot of that will depend on what happens when Rex Tillerson goes to Moscow. There's still an opening as far as the Trump administration's

concern to find a way to work with Russia both in the fight against ISIS and in the political process in Syria.

The Russians are not really in the mood for that right now because they are a little upset that we just bombed their ally but who knows what tomorrow

will bring. Every day is just a fresh set of surprises when it comes to the Trump administration's Syria policy.

GORANI: And I was going to ask P.J. Crowley, Sean Spicer, among other things was asked, what is the Trump doctrine? And his answer was it's

America first. It means putting American interest first. What is an answer like that tell you? What should we read into it, take away from


CROWLEY: Well, I think it's ridiculous to think about a doctrine 80 days into an administration where they have -- do not yet have a fully

developed, you know, foreign policy. I do think that the politics behind the statement of make America great first actually is very significant.

You know, Donald Trump on the campaign trail, you know, was highly skeptical of getting more deeply involved in the Syria civil war and

notwithstanding the launching of 59, you know, Tomahawk missiles last week. I think that skepticism remains.

He was elected by the American people to solve problems in America. He was not elected by the American people to solve problems in Syria. So I think

that they do mean what they say in terms of having this was a limited response for a limited purpose.

They are prepared to do it again, but I think they are going to focus on defeating the Islamic State. That's part of the president's narrative. I

don't think they are going to use military means to drive Assad from power.

GORANI: All right, P.J. Crowley, thanks very much, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state, the author of "Red Line" as well, and as always, Josh

Rogin, pleasure seeing you. Thanks for joining us.

And by the way, a little bit later, I'll be speaking with Robert Ford, the former American ambassador to Syria, who has some very interesting things

to say about what he thinks Bashar al-Assad's motivations are going forward.

Now we are going to take a quick break. We are live in Beirut. Thanks for your company. When we come back, more tensions with North Korea. Where is

that story headed? We'll be right back after this.



GORANI: A U.S. Navy strike group is headed to the waters off the Korean Peninsula as tension continues to rise over North Korea's nuclear program.

Rex Tillerson has said that this problem has to be dealt with.

Now our Will Ripley is the only American television correspondent in North Korea and he is reporting on the response from Pyongyang -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we've been speaking with North Korean officials here in Pyongyang and they tell us that they are receiving

the message the United States is sending by deploying that carrier strike group to the waters off the Korean Peninsula.

And they also believed that the missile attack on that Syria air base was a direct warning from the Trump administration not only to China but also to

North Korea. But their response may not be what the Trump administration is intending it to be.

They say instead of backing down, they want to accelerate their nuclear program and their weapons development. They have said for a long time that

they believe the U.S. is hypocritical because it possesses nuclear weapons.

It's the only country that has even used nuclear weapons on civilians and they look at what has happened in other countries like Iraq, Syria, regimes

that have been taken down by the U.S. and its allies. They looked at the chaos that's happening in Syria and they do not want to see a repeat of

that here in North Korea.

They say that if the Trump administration were to launch some sort of a pre-emptive strike here, they would retaliate and that could potentially be

very devastating even with the weapons that North Korea possesses right now.

There are tens of millions of people in the greater Seoul area, some 30 miles from the de-militarized zones, well within range of North Korea's

conventional weapons including artillery that could do a lot of damage and kill a lot of people.

But it could be even bigger than that because U.S. and South Korean officials have thought for several weeks now that North Korea is ready

really at any time to push the button on its sixth nuclear test and this is a big week for North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Tomorrow, the Supreme People's Assembly, the legislative gathering of North Korean delegates that vote to approve unanimously the laws that Kim Jong-un

puts forward, and then on Saturday, North Korea's most important holiday, the Day of the Sun, North Korea has a track record of military provocations

around this holiday.

Five years ago, they attempted and failed to launch a satellite into orbit. A nuclear test would certainly be a powerful way for Kim to show strength

and defiance to his enemies around the world -- Hala.

GORANI: All right, Will Ripley, thanks very much there in North Korea. As I mentioned, the only American television correspondent there following


Let's turn our attention to Egypt. Of course, over the weekend, there was an absolutely set of attacks in that country on Palm Sunday against the

Coptic Egyptian community there. First in Tanta then in Alexandria, Egypt, the big port city on the Mediterranean there.

What you are seeing now are some of the images coming to us from the funerals. People understandably devastated. The Coptic Christian

community in Egypt has for many, many months now felt targeted.

There was a big attack against them in Cairo last December and in this particular case, as you see the coffin there being carried by mourners and

poll bearers, the Christian community there saying, the government needs to protect us more. We need more protection around some of our sites of


We're going to have a quick break. Coming up, when we come back, the former American ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, joins me with more on the

U.S. strike against Syria and what lies ahead. We'll be right back.


[15:31:09] GORANI: Welcome back, everybody. Back to our top story. As we were discussing with our correspondent in Italy, Nic Robertson, there is a

G7 going on right now in Tuscany.

The G7 countries are trying to come up with sort of unified response with regards to what's going on in Syria. Of course, the U.S. Secretary of

State Rex Tillerson is headed to Moscow. He's scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, but interestingly, no meeting right now on the

schedule with Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.

It's going to be a crucial discussion and conversation. What will the U.S. and Russia do? Will they continue to cooperate, for instance, in the

battle against ISIS, and could the U.S. put pressure on Russia to force some sort of diplomatic transition at the head of the Assad regime? All

very big and important questions.

The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about this trip by Rex Tillerson, and this is what he had to say.


SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you look at the countries that are with us, it speaks very loudly the number of countries

that have stood shoulder to shoulder with this President. Russia, on the other hand, stands with Syria and North Korea and Iran. I think when you

contrast the two groups of countries' sets, it's pretty clear that we're on the right side of this issue.


GORANI: All right, some harsh words there. Russia stands with North Korea and Iran. Robert Ford is the former American Ambassador to Syria and he

joins me now live.

Thanks, sir, for being with us. I read some and listened to some of the interviews you've been giving over the last few days. One thing I found

interesting is that you believe that this will not necessarily, the strike against Syrian airbase, be a long-term deterrent in terms of sort of

convincing President Assad that using chemical weapons is not a good idea. Why not?

ROBERT FORD, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: I wish that it would be but I doubt that it will be. The nature of the Bashar al-Assad

government is, when confronted by something like this, to lay low, in this case, stop using chemical weapons for a time.

Some weeks pass, maybe a month, maybe two, and then they will begin to use them again, a little bit here and a little bit there, just to test the

Americans to see how determined the Americans are, to test where is the edge of the American envelope. And if the Trump administration declines to

strike again, then the Assad administration will keep testing a little more and a little more.

GORANI: But it seems like they're sending a different message. Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, today said, it's not just chemical

weapons. If you drop barrel bombs, we'll go after you potentially as well. Did you think that was significant, or an empty threat?

FORD: That will be a gigantic change in American policy. Since the Assad the government bombs civilians with projectiles like barrel bombs every

day, every two days, that will be a huge change and a huge escalation on the part of the Americans, and one which, frankly, would, I think, bring us

to a serious risk of confrontation with Russia.

GORANI: Yes. And speaking of Russia, I mean, if the deconfliction channel, in fact, has been suspended between Russia and the United States,

that would make the fight against ISIS even extremely tough because Russia, let's just say it, completely militarily dominates the skies over northern


FORD: Well, actually, I don't think Russia does completely dominate the skies over Syria. Russia dominates the skies over western Syria, but our

airplanes have been operating over central and eastern Syria, which is where the Islamic State is. And so we really have not had many

difficulties because of where the Russians, where the barrel bombs fall, western Syria.

[15:35:087] And where we operate against Islamic State in eastern Syria, it really would not interfere with our operations very much. If the Russians

simply turn the line up --

GORANI: It's a risk though. It's a big risk.

FORD: Of course. The deconfliction line helps minimize any unfortunate risks, but I wouldn't panic and say we can't operate against the Islamic

State if the deconfliction line isn't there.

We started this in 2014 without a deconfliction line with Russia, and so let's not panic about it. But by contrast, if we try to stop barrel bombs

falling on western Syria where the Russian Air Force operates regularly, then we will have a much greater risk of confrontation.

GORANI: I want to ask you about your British counterpart, a former British Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford. No relation, I know.

Essentially, he was interviewed this weekend as well and said people are jumping to conclusions. This is big trap. We have no idea who carried out

this chemical attack. We don't know that it's the government. No investigation has been conducted, and this is jumping to conclusions.

What do you say to someone like former Ambassador Peter Ford when you hear statements like that?

FORD: Well, I think we have to look at the totality of evidence. We understand from American military sources, speaking to CNN last week, that

American radar was tracking Syrian aircraft over Khan Sheikhoun at the time of the bombing.

We know from the United Nations' special expert investigators who issued a report in November that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in

this exact region before, during the years 2014 and 2015. And there are regular reports of 2016, but no official reports has been issued on that

yet. But the U.N. experts confirmed Syrian government is deploying gas in this area in 2014 and 2015. So I would just say that if it walks like a

duck and if it quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

GORANI: Well, lastly, obviously, I'm in Beirut right now. I hear this following comment a lot, why the outrage over gas babies and no outrage

over 400,000 murdered civilians over the last five years? I mean, this is part of the reason why, perhaps, in this region there is, you know, some

skepticism as to the motives of the United States. Given that we're seen so widely in the Middle East, how would you respond to that?

FORD: Syrian friends say this to me all the time, and I certainly understand the frustration and the anguish that they feel. It's entirely

understandable. The only thing that I can say in response to them is that, the world of nations, after World War I and the horrible experience of gas

warfare in the trenches of World War I, came together in the 1920s and outlawed the use of chemical weapons.

And so as a first step to reducing the violence in Syria, as a first step deterring additional use of chemical weapons in Syria, is a logical step.

It is not the way to fix the Syrian civil war. Everyone understands that. But as a first step, stopping further use of chemical weapons is a

realistic way to proceed.

GORANI: Robert Ford, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate your time this evening. We will be back live from Beirut after a quick break.


[15:41:07] GORANI: Welcome back, everybody. A new development there in southern Israel. Israel is saying that it is going close border crossing

between southern Israel and Egypt at Taba until Passover, so just about until mid-April, because of some sort of ISIS threat, they're saying,

directed at Israel.

You see it there on the map, the southern part of Israel where it connects to Egypt there in northern Sinai. So that is going to be crossed for about

a week -- closed, I should say, for about a week.

All right. Let's turn our attention from the Middle East to France and those controversial remarks by Marine Le Pen with some historical

revisionism, refusing to acknowledge the French government's responsibility in the deportation of some Jewish children during World War II. Melissa

Bell joins me now live from Paris with more reaction to that.

So she said this over the weekend. Today is Monday. What are people talking about? What's been the reaction in France to all of this?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Hala, there's been a great deal of reaction. What we're talking about is 1942. You have to cast your mind

back to when the French government from G.C., the collaborationist government, decided to deport from France some 13,000 French Jews,

including, Hala, thousands of French children.

Now, over the course of the last few decades, successive French presidents have recognized that this was something that the French state needed to

apologize for, Jacques Chirac and all of the presidents that succeeded him. That Marine Le Pen has been drawn into sort of a revisionist theory of this

is surprising at this stage and, of course, is drawing reaction from all of her opponents in this very volatile, very competitive, very uncertain

presidential race.

Until now, she's really tried to put a huge amount of space between herself and her father, going so far as to expel Jean-Marie Le Pen, the man who

founded the party that she now leads back in 1972, precisely because he had been accused of denying the Holocaust. He described the gas chambers as a

footnote of history.

Now, Marine Le Pen has not gone that far. But to doubt that the French state, the French government, was responsible for the deportation of those

Jews in 1942 has, of course, proved hugely controversial and is a massive blow to her campaign. She was, in a sense, drawn into this controversy

with less than two weeks to go before the French presidential election.

Now, for her die-hard supporters, one of the strengths that she has is that she has these voters, Hala, who are going to vote for her whatever. She

has one of the most solid groups of voters in the election. It is those undecided that she's been trying to reach that we'll have trouble with what

she's had to say over the course of the weekend.

GORANI: Right, we'll see if that has an impact. All right. I know you have some reporting from the French suburbs where there is a lot of

disaffection, lots of sort of economic depression, high unemployment as well. In just a few weeks before this crucial election, it's kind of

interesting to take the temperature there of what's going on in that part of France. Tell us more about what you saw.

BELL: Well, it is important to take the temperature there, Hala, because it is one of the main problems facing France, that in France's urban

centers, you have these huge French satellite towns that are essentially disenfranchised, that have huge levels of unemployment, that consider

themselves sort of outside of French society.

How is the French election going down there, especially when with less than two weeks to go before the first round of voting, we have historically very

high numbers of people who have yet to make up their minds, hence the volatility in this election? So we went out to have a look at what the

people in what the French call the banlieues had to think about what was happening.


[15:45:08] BELL (voice-over): Far from the glamour of Paris, this is what the French call the banlieues, suburban towns made up of tower blocks that

are synonymous with poverty, crime and exclusion, and where unemployment is twice as high as other parts of France.

Our journey begins in Gennevilliers, then further out to Argenteuil, and finally on to distant Grigny.

HASSAN BEN M'BAREK, PRESIDENT, BANLIEUES RESPECT (through translator): Public authorities are partly responsible for what has happened in the

French banlieues these last 20 or 30 years. They're just reaping what they sowed.

BELL (voice-over): Hassan Ben M'Barek is our guide. He spent 30 years trying to get successive governments to help the banlieues. Here in

Gennevilliers, social housing was put up in the early 1970s. Hassan shows us a spot where a tower block once stood. It was pulled down to make the

area less fortress like, but, Frederic, who's lived here all his life, says it still feels like a jail.

FREDERIC ROBIN, RESIDENT (through translator): They put bars everywhere. We're in cages, you've seen how it is. So our freedom has been restricted,

and we've abandoned the young people. We must give hope to the young people, to give them a goal in life.

I am 51 years old this year, what's my purpose in life? I don't have one, I have no goal. My goal is to survive. That's not a goal, it's an

obligation. You have to survive.

BELL (voice-over): A little further out of Paris, about a 20-minute drive, lies Argenteuil. It was made famous by Nicolas Sarkozy back in 2005.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): You've had enough, haven't you? You've had enough of this scum. Well, we're

going to get rid of them.

BELL (voice-over): Just days later, the deaths of two teenagers who've been running from police would set the banlieues alight. Sarkozy's use of

the word "scum" would not be forgotten. Twelve years on, the relationship between the police and locals here in Argenteuil remains tense.

DJENNA DIARRASSOUBA, RESIDENT (through translator): Instead of calming everyone down, the police gets confrontational. They insult and hit, and

it doesn't calm the situation at all.

BELL (voice-over): Grigny is further out still, about a 45-minute drive from Paris. Hassan says it's all been forgotten altogether.

M'BAREK (through translator): We have problems of delinquency. And the public authorities have not carried out any actions, whether it's do with

urban planning or social care to try and address all the problems that exist inside.

BELL (voice-over): As we arrive, so too do riot police and their helicopter. Locals tell us they come every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When the cameras are gone, they corner us. They insult us, they charge us. Respect is a two-way street.

If they give us no respect, we do not respect them.

BELL (voice-over): CNN reached out to the police to get their response, but they declined to comment. The young here complain that they see too

many policemen and despite the selection period, too few politicians.

GOLO DIARRA, RESIDENT (through translator): They go to centers for the disabled. They visit farms. They visit places that mean nothing at all.

Why don't they come to our neighborhoods? We're not animals.

If tomorrow, a guy participating in the election came here, I would love it. Just to see him, to speak to him, to say, sir, we are here at the

Grand Borne. This is how it is. That would be amazing, but that'll never happen.

BELL (voice-over): All of those we spoke to in Grigny said they would voting but many explained, with little real hope of change.


BELL: It is a reminder, Hala, all those many issues that the next president of France will have to deal with and yet, issues that really have

yet to become part of the presidential election with so little time to go.

These are young people who really feel that these candidates really have yet to reach out to them and offer them any hope for the future, Hala.

GORANI: OK. Thanks very much, Melissa Bell, in Paris. Quick break, we'll be right back.


[15:53:00] GORANI: To the United States now where a video has emerged of a man being forcibly dragged off a United Airlines plane. Take a look.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey. Hey, hey. Stop, OK. Come on.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you busted his lip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. This is wrong. Oh my God. Look at what you're doing.


GORANI: Did this man commit a crime? No. He was on an overbooked United Airlines flight. The airline asked passengers to give up their seats

voluntarily for compensation. Nobody took the airline up on the offer. And this happened, when they said that they randomly picked a few

passengers to disembark.

United's CEO has finally apologized and says the airline is reaching out to the passenger. I'm joined now by CNN's Safety Analyst David Soucie. He's

joining us via Skype from Denver.

OK. David, seriously. What on earth was that?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It was just reprehensible. I mean, the use of force like that is only warranted if there's somebody's safety at

risk, someone's on-board causing a hassle, causing a problem, interfering with the flight in some way. That use of force was totally unwarranted and

an embarrassment not only to the United Airlines but to any flying passenger, anyone in the industry is just looking at this and wondering how

it could possibly have happened.

Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United, is backpedaling now saying, hey, this shouldn't have happened, but the fact that it was even in that mode, of the

fact that they could not get their crew to Louisville and had to put people off in the airplane is just inexcusable.

GORANI: What happened? We've all been on overbooked flights. People are offered, you know, a voucher or something to give up their seat. But if

you refuse to give up your seat, you're a paying customer. You're sitting on your seat. The man had a bloodied face and was dragged off the plane

like a criminal.

[15:55:05] SOUCIE: I think that's where the whole problem started, is the fact that most of the time, and every time I've experienced it and known

about it, is that this is done before they board the passengers. Why the passengers were boarded and then later asked to leave their seats, I don't

know that that's ever how -- I know that's never happened to me. I've never even seen it happened before and I travel quite a lot.

So how this got to that point sounds to me as if it was poor planning on the part of United Airlines, trying to put their crews in Louisville and

didn't realize that they had to get their crew in Louisville. So they decided to inconvenience the passengers so that they could do what they

needed to do operationally. There's a million different things they could have done to get those people off.

GORANI: And this is more than inconvenience though. And who are these guys that acted really, frankly, like goons, dragging people, like

physically assaulting essentially a passenger? How does an airline -- who are they? Law enforcement? I mean, who are they?

SOUCIE: Yes. Those would be law enforcements. Here's the other problem with this, is now, they made an operational error and they're using our tax

dollars, our law enforcement, to enforce their operational procedure. How does that work? That doesn't make sense at all.

If anything should have happened here, it should have been dealt with within the airline, within their team. Now, CEO Oscar Munoz is saying that

those were part of their team. But from what I can see, the badges that they had on, those are Chicago Police Officers. Those were not United

Airlines employees.

GORANI: All right. We'll see how it develops. We had an apology from the CEO. We'll see how this story unfolds. It's the big talker today,

certainly. David Soucie, as always, thanks so much for joining us.

SOUCIE: Thank you.

GORANI: Thanks for watching the program. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN.