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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
U.S. President Admits He Has No Tapes Of Comey Talks; Trump Touted Republican Victories In Special Elections; Lavrov: U.S. Sanctions "Threaten Whole Relationship"; Theresa May In Brussels For Crucial Talks; Macron Speaks On Brexit Negotiations; May: Priority To Secure Rights Of E.U. Citizens; Britain Testing Cladding On Hundreds Of Buildings; Zuckerberg: New Vision Is To Bring People Together; Mosul's Great Al-Nuri Mosque Destroyed; Raqqa Residents share stories of ISIS brutality; ISIS and War Destroying Historic Sites; Defector Blames North Korea for Warmbier's Death; Prince Harry Gives Rare One-on-One Interview. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 22, 2017 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I am Hala Gorani. We are coming to you live from CNN London. Thanks for being with us on
this Thursday. This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.
Donald Trump treated it almost like a tease on a reality show, do tapes exist of private conversations in the oval office or not? Well, six weeks
later, we now have an answer and we found it on Twitter.
The U.S. president wrote, "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I
have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversations with James Comey. But I did not make and do not have any such recordings," he
Of course, he was the one who first suggested there were tapes in the first place and that suggestion came in the form of an apparent warning to his
fired FBI director several weeks ago.
You'll might remember that back in May, Trump tweeted this, "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts
leaking to the press."
President Trump apparently enjoyed the speculation that tweet set off. A senior administration official tells CNN that he was amused by all the
obsessing over it.
Let's bring in White House correspondent, Stephen Collinson. So by saying he doesn't know if there are recordings, but he does not possess any such
recordings or he did not himself record any such conversations, is he saying that he believes that potentially someone bugged the oval office?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the question he raises, Hala. It's quite I think conventional of Donald Trump.
Whenever he has to admit some embarrassing truth, something that doesn't put him in a very good light, he does so grudgingly.
And as on this occasion, he throws out a sort of side of a new conspiracy theory that people can play with. But I think it's really difficult to see
this in any other way than this was a big misstep from President Trump, the original tweet.
Because it was that tweet that caused James Comey, the fired FBI director to wake up in the middle of the night and believe there might be some
corroboration for his account of conversations with the president.
He then told a friend who leaked to reporters his side of the story, and that led to the appointment of a special counsel, and that special counsel,
Robert Mueller is now engage with a huge and wide ranging investigation of the White House, the Trump campaign and we don't know where that will lead.
So I think this is a huge misstep from the president and he had little choice but to climb down even in his own unique manners (inaudible).
GORANI: So why do it now? But why do it now?
COLLINSON: Well, Friday is the deadline for a demand by the House Intelligence Committee for him to hand over any tapes if they had existed
and I think that's the reason why it's particularly from about now. This has been 41 days of teasing by the president.
I think his legal team advised him that there was no real way to get out of this without saying that there are no tapes, and we don't know now what is
going to happen. It appears that that original tweet will now form part of the evidence for Robert Mueller's investigation as to whether he was trying
to intimidate Comey and obstruct justice.
So you can see how just from 141 characters a few months ago on Twitter, this has really unraveled into a very serious political situation.
GORANI: And let's talk about speaking of that investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. According to CNN
reporting, top intelligence chiefs have said that Donald Trump asked them to publicly deny that there had been any collusion between his campaign and
Russia, and that that made them uncomfortable.
COLLINSON: That's right. This relates to an appearance by Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence and Michael Rogers, the head of the
National Security Agency, the eavesdropping agency in the U.S. intelligence community.
[15:05:08]This is what they said in a private hearing before Senate Intelligence investigators. In a public hearing, they didn't go this far,
but they said that the president asked them to come out publicly and say there was no collusion.
What they say, however, is that they didn't believe that he was trying to get them to do something they didn't want to do. So that's perhaps a
mitigating factor in behalf of the president, but it's clear that Robert Mueller will be going into these conversations just as he went to the
conversations with the fired FBI Director James Comey.
It just adds another layer that shows us just how obsessed the president has been in trying to get people to come out and say that he is not under
investigation. The ironic fact of all those conversations is they've actually now placed him under investigation and his conduct under
investigation by the special counsel.
GORANI: But if you look at the bigger picture and obviously from the outside looking in especially from abroad, all of these headlines one after
the other, you think, well, the White House must be under pressure, well, Donald Trump must be in trouble.
And then we have the special congressional elections where one after the other, the Democratic candidates were wiped out. They did not make it. So
where it really counts when votes are casts, the Republican Party is still winning.
COLLINSON: That's why and I think out in the country there is not the same obsession with the issue of Russia, alleged collusion, as there is in
Washington and with the Washington media. I think voters are definitely looking for answers on questions like jobs and how the economy has been
made more equitable.
And I think that the rhetoric of Donald Trump in some areas that we saw, you know, regarding working class issues in the election still works in
those occasions and I think it certainly fair to say that the Democrats have not yet found a message and a messenger that could take those issues
back for the Democratic Party because of course, blue collar issues used to be where the party was strongest.
So I think that is a question the Democrats are really going to have to tackle in the next year before the midterm elections, which take place in
GORANI: Yes, what's the strategy for the Democrats. Thanks very much, Stephen Collinson, as always for joining us.
Now the kremlin meantime is furious with the American government for expanding sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. Russian
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says Moscow is preparing a tit-for-tat response while the foreign minister himself, Sergey Lavrov, says the new
sanctions, quote, "seriously threatened the whole relationship between the U.S. and Russia."
Remember when the election of Donald Trump was supposed to bring the two countries closer together, it's not happening in this instance. That was
the message Lavrov delivered in a phone call today with his counterpart, Rex Tillerson.
All right, from politics in the United States to politics in Europe and Brussels and it was an E.U. summit that maybe a little awkward for one of
the leaders. The British Prime Minister Theresa May is at her first meeting since that shocking election results zapped much of her authority.
She's been meeting with the other 27 leaders, but here's the thing, once she leaves the room, the rest of them will discuss Brexit without her. On
her mind as the U.K.'s approach to an important issues, the rights of European citizens currently living in Britain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What I'm going to be setting out today is clearly how the United Kingdom proposes to protect the rights of
E.U. citizens living in the U.K. and see the rights of U.K. citizens living in Europe protected. That's been an important issue. We've wanted it to
be one of the early issues that was considered in the negotiations. That is now in place. That work is starting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And that was Theresa May in Brussels. Erin McLaughlin is there. When will we learn more about whether or not the U.K. is going to guarantee
the rights of Europeans already living in this country?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. Well, we understand that Theresa May right now during the dinner is expected to lay out her plans
for some 4.5 million E.U. citizens, the status of which has been called into question because of Brexit.
Some E.U. leaders today simply saying that they hope Brexit won't happen at all including the president of the European parliament, Antonio Tajani,
said that he thinks that no Brexit would be a good idea.
We also heard from the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, his opening remarks sort of channeling John Lennon, talking of European dreams.
The president of the European Commission, Juncker, was asked if he too dreams of Brexit reversal. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: You can feel this difference between illusions and dreams. Politics was (inaudible) dreams to be a
nightmare, you know, if you had my experience from my part of Europe, you would know that miracle do happen.
[15:10:08]And at the same time, I'm realist and this is why first of all we should stop our negotiations as effectively as possible, and the final
decision -- this is also a decision for Britain and for all U.K. citizens. It's something still very (inaudible). And of course, yes, I prefer John
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: So Theresa May's presentation is expected again towards the end of that dinner once she has wrapped that up, laid out broadly speaking
her plan on E.U. citizens, then she will leave the room. E.U. leaders have made it a point that they do not want to negotiate directly with Theresa
May at this council.
They say all negotiations need to go through the European Commission. Once her presentation is finished, once she has left the room then the chief
Brexit negotiator for the E.U., Michel Barnier, will present his findings from the negotiations that happened earlier in the week.
We are also expecting a detailed position paper from the U.K. on the rights of citizens, their plan, that's expected to be released on Monday -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, it's going to be a lot of negotiating, a lot of talks, trying to figure out who talk to, when to talk to them, this is going to be
a long drawn process and we are just at the beginning. Erin McLaughlin, thanks very much.
There were a number of very new faces among the 28 leaders at the summit in Brussels including the new Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, (inaudible),
I'm not used to saying his name.
Emmanuel Macron, the new French president's victory over the anti-E.U. candidate, Marine Le Pen, was greeted obviously with sighs of relief in
Brussels because he really campaigned very openly on a pro-E.U. platform, and he had his own thoughts on the Brexit negotiations on his first trip to
an E.U. summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I will not begin Brexit negotiations with red lines instead we will define it in common. I
think it's a good signal to open exchanges on this subject, which causes anxiety for our citizens living in the U.K. It's a pragmatic signal for a
negotiation which just began. The U.K. choice was confirmed, discussions should begin ASAP. We have to define our strategy in terms of our
individual interest and regarding the international trade, I'm in favor of free trade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right, Emmanuel Macron, you see there are so much on their plates. We are talking not just about the rights of E.U. citizens. That's
one of the first things we are going to have to discuss.
We are also talking about trade, single market, customs union, all sorts of things that the U.K. and the E.U. have been completely interconnected in
over the last more than 40 years. This divorce won't be simple and it will take a very long time to finalize.
Ryan Heath is in Brussels. He is a senior E.U. correspondent for "Politico." First of all, what is your expectation with regards to what
Theresa May will announce? Because this has been -- the Europeans have been very clear, they've said from the beginning, we are not going to go
down any trade talks -- the road of trade talks before you tell us that our citizens' rights are guaranteed in your country. Will she accept that?
RYAN HEATH, SENIOR E.U. CORRESPONDENT, "POLITICO": She'll have to accept it. The E.U. isn't in the mood to compromise, Michel Barnier said. He is
not going to make concessions because Brexit is about hard consequences. So there is politeness, but there isn't a lot of compromise from the E.U.
Now the U.K. government, they talk a good game, but we've seen before that when they turn up at the summit, they don't necessarily deliver the goods.
So Theresa May will of course outline some principles about what she does commit to put in writing next week, but she's not going to come in with a
And what I heard -- I interviewed the Estonian prime minister earlier today and he is taking over the rotating E.U. presidency, a bit of a confusing
system next week, but he's one of the key players from next week on. And he said, we are very close to Michel Barnier. We support him all the way.
We are not doing any backdoor negotiating with Theresa May at this dinner.
So I think what you're going to have is a polite reception, but nothing more. Definitely no extra negotiating and Theresa May isn't going to put
down a lot of details at this dinner tonight.
GORANI: And now Britain has dropped its demand for parallel talks talking about the structure of the negotiations as well as trade at the same time.
They've dropped that.
[15:15:02]Now if they also right out of the gate accept the E.U. demand that they should guarantee the rights of Europeans living in the country,
is this being seen in Brussels as a sign that Britain is caving because it realizes its negotiating position is weak or not?
HEATH: It is, but Brussels is not going to get complacent around things going well for it this week. That's because they know the real meat of the
negotiations is what counts. You know, some of the choreography is important, but what matters is really what are they going to give to these
3 million citizens at the end of the day?
And the E.U. has come in with a very high demand or a very difficult demand for the U.K. to meet. So I think we all know that the U.K. isn't going to
give the E.U. exactly what it wants, but it will have to give the E.U. most of what it want because that's just the dynamics of this negotiation, 27
The fact that there are simply constitutional processes that the E.U. has to follow. So the U.K. found on Monday and it will keep finding I think a
little bit like Greece and its bailout problems in 2015. That you can fight a good fight. You can get some concessions but mostly you have to
give in to the E.U. 27.
GORANI: That's certainly what we heard from Greek officials at the time and even now when they look back. Last question, we saw the European
leaders there musing and fantasizing about Britain changing its mind and realizing it made the wrong decision in June of last year when it voted to
Brexit. Is there a belief in Brussels that this is still reversible? Because that's not at all what we are hearing from politicians here.
HEATH: It's not a belief, but it's a glimmer of hope. I think if Theresa May has got herself a majority in this election, if she had a more credible
consensus to build on when she walks into the negotiating room here in Brussels, no one would dare come up with those analogies or have those
But the fact is she's very fragile and the people are circling from all angles around her in London right now, and that gives the people in
Brussels and other national capitals that tiny bit of hope that belief that they can come out with those frankly outrageous suggestions. But as Donald
Tusk said there's been miracles before in Europe, why not again?
GORANI: Well, we've gone from shock to shock over the last two years so maybe there is another one in store for us. Thanks very much, Ryan Heath,
a senior E.U. correspondent for "Politico" live in Brussels.
Still to come tonight, if you thought the Grenfell Tower tragedy was an isolated case, you might be wrong. Hundreds of other apartment buildings
could have the same combustible materials.
Plus this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the formal mission statement is going to be to give people the power to build community to bring the world closer together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Mark Zuckerberg's ambitious new goal for Facebook and our exclusive interview with him on CNN coming up.
GORANI: Hundreds of apartment buildings, thousands of homes could have covering similar to Grenfell Tower.
[15:20:04]That's the tower block where at least 79 people died in a massive fire last week and the toll could be higher in the end, the final toll. As
investigators work to determine exactly what role the cladding played in the rapid spread of this fire.
Fear is growing because the government is testing 600 buildings to see if they are covered in the same combustible or potentially combustible
material and it has already been found on seven buildings.
Phil Black joins me now with more from London. So what is the government planning on doing first with the buildings that have been found to have
this potentially combustible material and then if they find them on hundreds more, how do you replace them, who replaces them, who pays for it?
PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the easy roll of the questions, Hala, and they are the big important ones. You're right.
So 600 buildings have been deemed to have some sort of cladding, not necessarily the same or similar cladding, but just some sort of cladding.
Now they are going through the process of testing the samples from all of them to determine which ones are similar, which ones are in fact dangerous
or potentially dangerous, combustible as you say, that's the word the prime minister used.
And so yes, she said, seven have been. It's likely to take a few days to determine all of this. Separate to that we've seen another example where a
local counsel in Candida, the north of London, is going to conduct its own laboratory test on its own cladding, on some of its social housing tower
blocks and found that five of those blocks are in fact not up to standard.
Which is obviously very concerning for the residents who were told about this today, told about plans to begin stripping away that cladding very
soon. This is how they reacted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cried when I heard the news. I was in shock. I said I'm shocked but along with other residents we are suffering a combination
of shocked and anger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've never had any fire evacuation rules, any plans, any procedures, nothing. So we were scared, but genuinely generally scared
of our lives.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot more anxious because we've already planned what we are going to do if there was a fire, when I do have the baby. We got
(inaudible) up in a room next to the door so we can just leave straight away. But it's really nerve wracking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: So a lot of concern, a lot of worry in people who are leaving in blocks like this across the country and potentially a lot of money too for
stripping out the cladding where necessary and also rehousing people as well potentially because the government has said no one will be made to
stay in a building that is deemed to be unsafe -- Hala.
GORANI: Yes, of course, but then it's a question of how quickly you do it and how much money it's going to cost as well. Thanks very much, Phil
Black, reporting live from London.
If you use social media and really most of you do, you probably use a platform controlled by our next guest, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a
man who rarely gives on-camera interviews, but he's now given one to CNN. This as he holds Facebook's first community summit in Chicago.
Our tech correspondent, Laurie Segall, sat down with Zuckerberg for an exclusive interview and she joins me now live. What did he tell you?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Hala. Well, I'm actually sitting here surrounded by administrators from some of the biggest
groups on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg invited all of them here to make a big announcement and this is what we talked about.
The company is completely changing its mission. There was a lot of soul searching that went into it and the community vibe is very relevant for
that changing mission. I actually spoke with him about why he decided to change it and what's behind it. Take a listen.
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: So our new mission is to bring the world closer together and for the last decade, our mission has been to make the
world more open and connected. And we've been really focused on these ideas, but now I just feel like we have a responsibility to do more in the
I mean, when you look at the world today, you know, giving people a voice and helping people connect are good and they've made the world better in a
lot ways. But our society is still very divided, right, and that means that it's not just enough to help us simply connect. We need to work to
bring the world closer together.
SEGALL: We keep hearing we've never been more divided, we've never been more polarized, was it the political climate that led to kind of this
ZUCKERBERG: I think it's really this feeling that simply connecting the world is not enough by itself where you want to help people stay connected
with the people they already know and care about, but you also want to make it to the people get access to new people and new perspectives too.
SEGALL: So let me ask you how do you do that because technology to a degree has always promise to help us discover and to help us learn. There
is also the question of like does it make us more insular and is, you know, is information being hijacked and spread? So as you make the future of
Facebook, these communities, how do you make sure they remain a place for authenticity and for real discourse?
[15:25:04]ZUCKERBERG: People are connecting over something that they have in common and there is a lot of research that shows that if you want to
engage on issues that you disagree on, right, so things that society is divided on.
The first thing that you need to do is connect over your common humanity, right? So that could be something as simple as, you know, we both have
families or we both like a TV show together. We both like the Chicago Cubs or whatever it is.
So bringing people together and creating these communities is I think a lot of what we can do help create more civil and productive debate on some of
the bigger issues as well.
SEGALL: And this isn't new, I think we've Mark Zuckerberg talk about this for a little bit. We saw a whole manifesto he wrote about technology
changing the future addressing some of the criticism of, are we more insular, are we spreading -- is Facebook spreading fake news?
So there are a lot of these challenging questions and you also by the way, had Mark going to different dinner tables all around the country and
talking with different people so kind of getting outside of Silicon Valley.
So you can tell he has been putting a lot of stop behind that and it's all going to culminating in today with him trying to bring together communities
and talk about the future.
Obviously, Hala, there are a lot of hard questions that come along with this, but this is the first kind of time we've seen him actually put forth
what a new mission statement will be and how he plans to do that -- Hala.
GORANI: Exactly. Briefly, how does he plan to do that? I mean, I understand the concept, but in practice, what does that mean for me, for
any social media user? What will change?
SEGALL: You know, I think today the idea is to try to get what he said the idea is to try to get people involved in meaningful communities. To get us
empathetic, get us actually connecting, making the world closer. So how he plans on doing that is using artificial intelligence in certain -- to help
people discover different Facebook groups or think about how influential the women's group march was on Facebook and how that really helped people
It's the idea of doing that sort of thing and also giving people tools. A lot of the administrators here started clapping when he said they were
tools to get rid of bad actors in some of these groups. So helping, you know, curb some of that (inaudible) as well. So they are very specific.
They are having workshops all today to talk about that.
You know, the community part is a part of this and you can tell it's something he really wants to focus on given the fact that the criticism is
that Facebook has become more insular. We wonder if we are living in these filter bubbles and this is, you know, for the future and then next billion
You know, it's the idea of what he called social infrastructure, building social infrastructure to help us connect better -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, we'll see how that changes people's everyday experience on these social media sites because as you've mentioned, it becomes
sometimes an echo chamber of one's own opinions but we'll see how that changes, very interesting. Laurie Segall, we look forward to your
We'll hear more of it, of Laurie's interview coming up on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" in about half an hour.
Still ahead, centuries of history destroyed in seconds, a landmark of Islam itself is obliterated. We ask who is responsible and why.
And escaping a living nightmare, we meet the people who fled the city ISIS calls its capital and those fighting to take it back.
[15:30:41] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: In Iraq, a bedrock of Islamic history now lies in ruins. The Great Mosque of al-Nuri, which towered over Mosul
for eight centuries, has been blown up.
This night vision video was given to us by a senior Iraqi military official and it appears to show the instant destruction of the minaret. Here's a
side-by-side comparison showing the area from an aerial view before and after the attack.
Iraq says ISIS is to blame. The terrorist group points the finger at American warplanes.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has reported extensively from Iraq, and he is now live in Beirut with me.
The images, though, seem to leave little doubt that this was blown up from the mosque itself, Nick.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That does seem to be the case, says many of our ammunitions experts. If you look simply
at how the mosque seems to detonate, it starts at the tower and then moves along the building.
That's pretty hard to achieve if, as ISIS claims, it was down to a U.S. air strike. And the U.S. said that that is a thousand percent false. And
Iraqi government is saying ISIS choosing to blow up this deeply symbolic mosque is them announcing their defeat.
Now, let me unpack that idea for you a little bit. This is a key, a seminal building, frankly, in their short-lived history of their self-
declared caliphate, where in July 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his single public appearance declaring the caliphate open for business, so to
speak. That area of Iraq and Syria which is now massively diminished after an onslaught from Western-backed forces.
The fact that they might choose to have destroyed it suggests perhaps they're seeing that the incredibly small amount of ground they hold now in
Mosul and its old city was most likely going to diminish yet further. Perhaps they smell the end of their time in that key city, the largest
population they held inside of Iraq.
But to detonate that particular building is clearly a sign of this tortured policy we've seen. And frankly, if they're willing to destroy a monument
that should be so sacred to them in the Islamic faith, on a day too which was one of the holiest nights in the holy month of Ramadan, it gives you a
real idea quite how they treat human life, particularly in these final moments like these in a rather bloody battle in Mosul's old city, Hala.
GORANI: Yes. And obviously, I mean, whether or not they're acknowledging defeat, but it is an indication that it's imminent. I mean, they are
losing control. There's no doubt about that. How close are Iraqi forces to the key areas controlled still by ISIS in the old city?
PATON WALSH: They are, to some degree, surrounded there in the old city. And the al-Nuri Mosque is the gateway to that intensely packed warren of
alleyways where, we understand from various NGOs, their fear is possibly as many as a hundred thousand civilians or tens of thousands are perhaps being
held as human shields by ISIS in an area that is now simply a matter of square miles.
Now, there have been some ambitious statements from Iraqi officials but it could take a matter of days to clear this remaining pocket of ISIS.
But I have to say, that would be potentially very hazardous to civilians caught inside of there. This could be long. It could be messy.
We've seen instances of children literally bursting out in gaps in the walls, desperate for water. They've been held in such appalling conditions
as Iraqi forces advance.
This could be lengthy, but it certainly -- I'm afraid to say -- will be bloody, Hala.
GORANI: Yes. It's yet another tragic unfolding event there in Mosul. Thanks very much, Nick Paton Walsh.
In neighboring Syria, U.S.-led forces are closing in on the city ISIS has claimed as its capital, Raqqa. And as they advance, we're learning more
about the absolute horror the city is going through.
CNN's Arwa Damon is inside Syria and spoke to people who've made out of Raqqa, and those risking everything to claim it back.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The coalition-backed Syrian Defense Forces have managed to clear the first few
neighborhoods of Raqqa.
Outside the city, we ran into Clara Raqqa, one of the unit commanders here, and a native of the city itself, just back from one of the fronts.
CLARA RAQQA, UNIT COMMANDER, SYRIA DEFENSE FORCES (through translator): In the city, we can see that the city of Raqqa is above ground, and there is
another city below ground.
[15:34:59] Raqqa was a city that was a mosaic of people that turned into a place of women's enslavement. The place where women were enslaved has to
be liberated by the hands of women.
DAMON (voice-over): It's a city whose brutality transcends our current vocabulary, Raqqa, the capital of the so-called caliphate ruled by ISIS
since 2013, where Yazidi Kurd and even Arab women were sold on the streets as sex slaves, where public executions and beheadings were a regular
occurrence, where journalists and aid workers were held hostage and murdered.
These are the faces of those who lived in Raqqa, now in a hastily put together camp. Children who have little choice but to witness the stuff of
nightmares. The lines of good and evil blurred for them.
This woman from Raqqa married an ISIS member, a foreigner from the Caucuses, who she said had an administrative job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): ISIS made a mockery of us. There is nothing else we can say.
DAMON (on camera): When they were running away, they say that they were also fired on by ISIS fighters, who were basically ordering them to return.
DAMON (voice-over): And then there are also those who went willingly to join the so-called caliphate. It became a magnet for foreign fighters and
This woman is from the Caucuses. She came with her husband and four children, claiming they wanted to live in the caliphate. She says they
were lured online by the promise of Islamic utopia and a job for her husband.
This Syrian woman is originally from Homs. She was an English teacher. She eventually married a Moroccan man who went through ISIS military
training, although she claims he never fought. ISIS, she says, never allowed the population to escape their brutality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when you walk the streets of Raqqa, there's big screens that are showing beheadings, especially the news. They have, you
DAMON (on camera): Right, projectors, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And we are walking the streets and just watching these videos.
DAMON (on camera): How are you going to explain this to your children?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pray for God so that my children forget this. They're asking me. They are, all the time, thinking about war, about
killing when they see a video of cutting heads.
DAMON (voice-over): The battle for ISIS capital is just began, and what lies ahead is unknown for those who are fighting to liberate it and for the
civilians who are still trapped inside.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Ayn Issa, Syria.
GORANI: Coming up, why the destruction of the al-Nuri Mosque is so culturally significant and how ISIS and the Syrian civil war are resulting
in the erasure of ancient civilization. We'll be right back.
[15:39:57] GORANI: The al-Nuri Mosque, more than 800 years old, is now the latest victim of the Islamic State's war on civilization. And besides
being an iconic fixture of Mosul's old town, it also has great historic importance to Islam. It was built by a great Muslim military commander who
helped fight off Christian crusaders in the 12th Century and who is credited for uniting Islamic factions.
ISIS denies they destroyed it despite a history of destroying antiquities. The U.S. and Iraqi military point the finger squarely at them. And the
images we have of the moment that the minaret collapsed seem to indicate the explosives came from within.
But let's talk more about the cultural and historic importance of this mosque with Mark Altaweel. He's from the UCL Institute of Archeology and
joins me from Maidenhead.
Talk to us about the al-Nuri Mosque. We'll have an opportunity also to discuss what's happened in Syria, but let's start first with this mosque
and its importance to Mosul and to the Islamic world.
DR. MARK ALTAWEEL, READER IN NEAR EASTERN ARCHAEOLOGY, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: The mosque is one of the most important sites in the city of
Mosul. Obviously, the Nabi Yunus Mosque, which was also destroyed by ISIS, that was very important. And this is probably the second-most important
mosque in the city.
As you mentioned, it's basically dedicated to an important military commander from the 12th Century, so back only a hundred years ago. And it
was essentially built by him or/and commissioned by him, which was, of course, the residence and dedicated to sort of the city of Mosul and became
essentially the symbol of Mosul for many centuries.
And even to Christians in the city, I would say. I'd like to add that it was also an important place because of --
GORANI: Of course, yes.
ALTAWEEL: -- it's sort of importance as a kind of symbol for the city itself. It was kind of a fixture on the skyline. The minaret is very well
known. It's a leaning tower, a leaning kind of minaret, so similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. So it's a very sort of obvious kind of
fixture in the skyline of Mosul.
GORANI: Yes. You mentioned the very important fact that Christians -- I mean, Mosul was a diverse city, in the same way Aleppo, as well, is a
diverse city, where you have this very important Islamic landmarks that are precious to everyone who lives in the city. And then there was the
instance of the Mosul Museum ransacked by ISIS as well. There were some copies in there, we understand, but also very important genuine artifacts.
ALTAWEEL: That's right. So that happened early on in the occupation by ISIS, where they ransacked the museum which had both a combination of
copies but also a number of genuine artifacts.
GORANI: Yes. And talk to us a little bit about what's being lost here. I mean, just put it in context.
ALTAWEEL: Well, the things that were lost, we do know things. A lot of the statues were from Hatra, to the south of Mosul, which is also occupied
by ISIS and partially destroyed by them. So a lot of objects were destroyed from there.
So that the pre- sort of Christian and pre-Islamic parts of Mosul, Nineveh province, a very ancient part of Iraq, so many objects dating to those
periods had been destroyed, a lot of them very unique objects that are only one of a kind.
So many of those have been damaged, like statues, important kinds of artifacts that deal with the cultural heritage of Mosul and really for the
wider world, I would like to add.
GORANI: And I want to talk about Aleppo as well because it's a city, I should say, in Syria, a country we've reported on a lot over the last 10,
15 years. The Umayyad Mosque, as well, lost its minaret in the war between rebels and government forces.
Here's a bit of a clip of what it used to look like and then how the war damaged it over the last several years. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI (voice-over): Before the war, this is what the city center looked like. Narrow alleys and covered souks, UNESCO World Heritage sites. We've
been coming to Aleppo since long before the civil war started. And in just the past few weeks, we got access to what is left of the old city.
The ancient souk, once such a central part of Aleppo life when we came here before, where craftsmen worked their goods and stalls buzzled, today looks
like this. Empty. Much of it reduced to rubble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And it's really heartbreaking because it's not just the heritage of Syria. It's world heritage here that is being destroyed.
ALTAWEEL: That's right. So like Aleppo is like one of the most ancient continuously occupied cities in the world, so it has very long history.
So, obviously, any damage to that ancient city is a major loss to all of us.
GORANI: I mean, obviously, when the war ends, what do you, I mean, as an archeologist, as someone who studies these ancient buildings and this
cultural heritage? What can be done after all it's all over, after there's some sort of peace in these areas?
[15:44:58] ALTAWEEL: It's not all hopeless, to be honest. Some of these damages, I noticed, are stone which are fractured in old bricks or just
have been fractured, so it's kind of like a giant jigsaw puzzle. There are cases too, for instance, where people were able to put a lot of damaged
ancient stones back together, almost to the point where it didn't look like anything happened. So it's possible some of these things can be fixed.
Certainly, a wide-scale damage assessment needs to be made. In some places, we have complete loss. Other places, we can do this kind of fixes
that can potentially preserve something there for the future.
GORANI: Let's hope so. Mark Altaweel, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate it.
GORANI: We will post some of our interviews and reports on our Facebook page, facebook.com/halagoranicnn. Now, to an emotional farewell for an
American student who died just days after his release from North Korea. Two thousand five hundred people attended Otto Warmbier's funeral in his
Ohio hometown. The crowd of mourners was so large, many had to watch the service on television monitors outside.
Warmbier was returned to the U.S. in a coma last week, and doctors said he had extensive brain damage. They found no evidence of botulism, casting
doubt on claims that he had contracted botulism in the country. Otto Warmbier's family declined an autopsy so the cause of his mysterious death
may never be known.
Our Paula Hancocks met a defector who blames North Korea, though, for his death, and he's trying to spread the news to his North Korean neighbors.
Here's her exclusive report from Seoul.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the cover of darkness, Park Sang-hak prepares his message to North Korea -- 300,000
fliers, 2,000 $1-bills, and this. A clear message from this defector that North Korea is to blame for the death of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student
detained for 17 months in North Korea sent back in a coma who passed away this week.
It reads, "Kim Jong-un brutally killed the young American man, Otto Warmbier. Humanity condemns him."
Using massive balloons to float the message across the border into North Korea, this is a drill Park knows well. The activist said these messages
change minds. He wants his people to know the truth about their regime.
PARK SANG-HAK, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR AND ACTIVIST (through translator): We're telling 20 million North Korean residents of Kim Jong-un's cruel,
murderous actions. And we're sending this to express our condolences over Warmbier.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Park knows these propaganda balloons anger North Korea. He survived assassination attempts in the past. This North Korean
agent arrested in 2011 on the streets of Seoul by South Korean intelligence officials, he was trying to meet up with Park. Officials showed us the
poisoned pens he was armed with at the time. But Park refuses to stop and has a message for U.S. President Donald Trump.
PARK (through translator): I want to urge the U.S. government in light of Warmbier's sacrifice to charge Kim Jong-un in the international criminal
court for crimes against humanity and designate North Korea as a barbaric and terrorist country.
HANCOCKS (on camera): Park has been sending these propaganda balloons for well over a decade now. He says he knows not all of them make it to North
Korea depending on the wind. He also says he may never know how many actually read his leaflets, but he's convinced that it is important for him
to try and get some information to his own people who he says are starved of contact with the outside world.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
GORANI: All right. Coming up, Prince Harry's surprising comments, that he doesn't think anyone in the royal family wants to be king or queen. We'll
be right back.
[15:50:10] GORANI: Welcome back. We were discussing with our correspondent in Brussels the question of whether or not the U.K. would
meet E.U. demands to guarantee the rights of European citizens in the U.K. after Brexit. And we are getting our first look at the position of the
Theresa May has said that the U.K.'s position represents a fair and serious offer, and that it is aimed at giving, she says, as much certainty as
possible to citizens who've settled in the U.K. Any E.U. citizen with less than five years' residence who arrives before the cutoff date will be given
time to stay until they have the five years of residence to obtain U.K. settled status.
So it appears as though there is some agreement on the part of the U.K. to give Europeans already settled in the U.K. the opportunity to stay. And
this was definitely a key E.U. demand.
Now, I mentioned, before the break, Prince Harry. But his grandfather, Prince Philip, is home from the hospital. He spent two nights there
causing royal watchers to worry about his health. Buckingham Palace says the stay was precautionary after the 96-year-old was admitted for treatment
for an infection by a pre-existing condition. Prince Philip announced his intention to retire from public life back in May.
Now, we're learning a lot more about the mindset of some other members of the royal family after Prince Harry gave an exclusive interview to
"Newsweek." He opened up about this tragic moment in his life that we remember, as a 12-year-old, hands clenched, following his mother's coffin
just days after her death. He has now admitted that Princess Diana's passing led him to mental health struggles.
Harry also hinted that the family has thought about what would happen if his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Second, were to die or abdicate and
what would become of Britain's monarchy.
He told "Newsweek," quote, "We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of
the people. Is there anyone of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don't think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right
time." And we should note that Prince Harry is fourth in line to the throne.
With me now is Angela Levin, the "Newsweek" contributing writer who interviewed Prince Harry one-on-one. Thanks for being with us.
ANGELA LEVIN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, NEWSWEEK: My pleasure.
GORANI: So Prince Harry is saying, does anyone really want to be king or queen? Not really. This is our duty. Was that a surprising statement
coming from Prince Harry?
LEVIN: Not really. And I took it, and I'm sure this is what he means, it's not about not doing your duty. It's not about disliking the monarchy
because he feels that it's very, very important part of British civilization. He is a huge admirer of the Queen.
I think it's about changing how it is. I think what they don't like is the constant pressure of the press. I think they don't like the fact that they
don't have any chance of a normal family life, and they want to do it slightly differently.
He kept saying that he wants to be something other than Prince Harry. He wants to be ordinary. And I think they want to experience that, and
especially have a good relationship with their family.
The Queen, for example, who is absolutely wonderful --
LEVIN: -- she used to go away for long trips abroad. And she used to go and see her horses first before she went to see the children.
LEVIN: But they don't think they would do that. They want to take the children or just be away for short periods of time. It's much more, the
family is very important, and reasonably so because they had a very dysfunctional family with their mother and father for not seeing each
GORANI: Right. And you had incredible access to Prince Harry. You spent a lot of time with him over a year.
GORANI: Talk to us about that.
LEVIN: Well, it took me a year to do what I felt was a proper profile. It wasn't all the time, but they would suggest where he was going and say,
would you like to come on that? And I did. And eventually, I tried my best to ingratiate myself and be as nice as possible and ask for an
GORANI: What surprised you most about your conversations with him?
LEVIN: Well, what surprised me most is that he's very charismatic. He's got a sort of combination of royal magic. He's honest. He looks nice.
He's very keen on talking to you. He focuses his eyes on you. He doesn't ask you silly questions.
He is really lively, energetic, fun. But every now and then, I saw over his face a sort of shadow would come, which I think is a remnant of him
working on himself.
GORANI: And, in fact, I wanted to bring that up. One of the things he said when he talked about his mother's passing, "I don't think any child
should be asked to do that," as in walk behind the casket of your dead mother, "under any circumstance," at that age essentially, "I don't think
that would happen today."
[15:55:03] LEVIN: Yes.
LEVIN: But this part of the feeling of modernizing. I remember watching that funeral, as we all did in the U.K., and thinking to myself, well, that
looks somber but appropriate that there was Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Philip, Prince Charles -- their father -- and Earl Spencer, their
uncle. And I thought that looks right.
And when he said it to me, I felt like I've been sort of kicked in the stomach. And I thought, well, I got this completely wrong. That was for
the public. That wasn't really looking after a 12-year-old and a 14-year- old. And, of course, they shouldn't have had to do that.
GORANI: Yes. You spoke about the Queen, obviously. He paid tribute to his remarkable grandmother. He has a lot of affection for her even though
you mentioned the story of the Queen going away on long trips, not necessarily coming back to her kids. So that was not --
LEVIN: But this is not with him, of course.
LEVIN: It was with his father, but not him.
GORANI: That's right. That was going to be my point, is that it seems to have, generationally, at least --
GORANI: The grandchildren appreciate her very much. Not that Prince Charles doesn't appreciate his mother, but there might have been more of a
LEVIN: And he loved her when she was at the Olympics, when she looked as if she was flying through the air to come and start it. You know, she
still got a sort of joie de vivre, and he did some tweeting with her and he's helped her do more modern things.
And she's been very generous. You know, she stopped doing some of her charity work, quite rightly so, and she's let them choose which ones they'd
like. She suggested it, but she said, no, Harry loves rugby. And she suggested he should think about that, and if he wanted to do it, he could.
She didn't impose it on them, and I think that that's what they really like. Don't forget they don't have a mother for that.
GORANI: Yes, of course. What's the big headline on the cover of "Newsweek" for this?
LEVIN: The big headline is -- I can't remember that.
GORANI: That's all right. It's an exclusive one-on-one interview with Prince Harry, and we look forward to reading it in the magazine.
LEVIN: Thank you.
GORANI: Thank you very much, Angela Levin, for doing this on CNN.
I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. Stay with us.