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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Winter Olympics Open With Pomp And Politics; Sources: Moon May Be Invited To Visit North Korea; Russians Athletes Will Compete As Neutrals; Trump Has Well Wishes For Former Aide Accused Of Abuse; Omarosa Bashes Trump On "Celebrity Big Brother"; Volatile Day For New York Stock Exchange; U.S. Special Ops Forces Fight Ever-Changing War in Syria; British ISIS Hostage-Takers Captured in Syria; Areas Liberated from ISIS still need Basic Services; Hospitals, Clinics Attacked Repeatedly during War; Chief EU Negotiator: Transition Period not a Given; Exploring South Korea's Winter Olympic Sites. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 9, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:17]

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, Olympic diplomacy, the Winter games began in PyeongChang, but it was happening on the sidelines that has the world gripped. We'll look into

that.

Also, tonight, breaking his silence, President Trump finally speaks about a former White House aide accused of beating his ex-wives.

And a complicated dangerous situation, CNN has exclusive to access to American special ops forces inside Syria. Our latest report from the

region is coming up.

So, the games have begun. South Korea's PyeongChang Winter Olympics kicked off Friday with a lot of pizazz at a dazzling if not rather chilly opening

ceremony. It is the Winter game after all.

Good thing that it's chilly. This year's games offer hope not just for the athletes, but for a potential diplomatic defrost between North and South

Korea.

Paula Hancocks is on the ground and has this story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): (Inaudible) ceremony with a bit of politics. The opening ceremony of the 2018

PyeongChang Winter Olympic games was one for the history books. In an unprecedented move, South Korean President Moon-Jae in shook hands with Kim

Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

The two figures from opposite sides of a divided Korea then watched in excitement as athletes from their respective nations marched together under

a unified flag. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who was been vocal in his criticism of North Korea in the run-up to the games sat nearby.

The athletes from both countries even posed for a selfie. It was spectacular performances and several notable entrances. The Russian

athletes waved to the crowd as they marched. They were not able to march with the Russian flag since the country was banned from the games after a

doping scandal.

Peace, harmony and unity were the themes of this year's kickoff to the games with star Olympic mascot, (inaudible). The white tiger considered

the Guardian in Korean history and culture.

The ceremony included dancing, fireworks, and of course, the lighting of the Olympic caldron by South Korean former figure skater, (inaudible). Now

it is time for the competition to begin. Paula Hancocks, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, out team on the ground is getting a front row seat to all of this action. Will Ripley joins us live from PyeongChang.

So, let's start first of all with what is happening on the sidelines. The sister of Kim Jong-un in the same VIP box as the vice president of the

United States, Mike Pence. How significant is it that Kim's sister is at the opening of the games in Seoul?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very significant. This is a propaganda win for North Korea to have Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's

younger sister along with Kim Yong-nam, the ceremonial head of state sitting in the same section as the vice president of the United States,

shaking hands with the president of South Korea.

It gives the North Korean government legitimacy on a global stage without them having to really make any concessions. Obviously, it was a pretty

awkward situation to look at. The vice president we have learned actually switched seats to move himself farther away from the North Korean

delegates.

He would have actually been sitting almost directly in front of them. Instead, he was separated by one row and four seats, but when you have Vice

President Pence speaking so strongly against North Korea here in PyeongChang today.

But yet his close ally, President Moon Jae-in, shaking hands, attending a dinner, and planning a lunch meeting tomorrow in Seoul at the blue house,

it just shows how divergent the United States and South Korean strategies are right now in terms of how to deal with North Korea.

GORANI: Right. And there's also the possibility potentially that the president of South Korea would travel to Pyongyang to meet directly with

Kim Jong-un. I wonder is this all due to sort of this sports diplomacy. What is causing this thaw? What is at the heart of this apparent thaw

here?

RIPLEY: It seems as if Kim Jong-un has dispatched his sister here to PyeongChang on a diplomatic mission. And from the United States' point of

view, it might be a mission try to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul.

Several diplomatic sources confirmed that at this luncheon, which is going to be the informal meeting, which allows Kim Jong-un's sister to have

conversations and not necessarily official level, but she could casually pass along a message from Kim Jong-un, President Moon.

And these sources have told me that there is a very good chance she will extend an invitation for a possible trip to Pyongyang sometime later this

year. For North Korea this extends this period of inter-Korean talks.

[15:05:04] It gives them a buffer as they continue to develop their weapons programs and it also makes it more difficult for the United States to fully

implement this policy of maximum pressure if South Korea is not fully on board.

Because Vice President Pence was calling publicly for the South to completely disengage from the North after the Olympics and to join the U.S.

in its hard stance and it's really unclear right now if President Moon Jae- in is willing to do that.

GORANI: Will Ripley live in Seoul, thanks very much where it's a little past 5:00 in the morning. Time will tell whether this bilateral warming

between North and South Korea will last, but how is U.S. playing its hand in all of this?

Let's discuss this further with Abraham Denmark, the former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. He joins me from Silver

Spring, Maryland.

So first of all, let us talk about the significance of this, the handshake between the sister of Kim Jong-un and the South Korean President Moon.

What -- how significant is it?

ABRAHAM DENMARK, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR EAST ASIA: It's very significant. Remember that Kim Jong-un's sister is the

first time a member on the Kim family has actually been to South Korea. So, not only has she been welcomed there, not only did she cross the DMZ,

but she has also met with the South Korean president.

And as your reporter stated, may be looking to drive towards further high- level engagements between North and South. So, this is a historic moment.

GORANI: And why is it -- but why is it happening now?

DENMARK: The Olympics gave a venue for a bit of the truce between North and South and it's important to remember that President Moon campaigned on

a platform of engaging the North.

GORANI: Right.

DENMARK: That's been his ideology for decades and so this is really feeding into the way he would want things to go anyway, and then we have

the vice president coming in with a very different message, a very difficult attitude, and the split between Washington and Seoul, which has

been under the surface for a long time is now a burst (inaudible).

GORANI: But why wouldn't do you think Mike Pence, I'm not saying there should be a discussion of substance in the VIP box at the Olympics, but why

not a nod, an knowledgement, what was the calculation there because it was awkward in the end?

DENMARK: Extremely awkward. It seems that the calculation comes directly from President Trump.

GORANI: Right.

DENMARK: If you remember his state of the union address in the portion that was dedicated towards foreign policy, about half of that focused on

North Korea and the depredations of that regime.

And recall that the vice president brought with him in his delegation the father of Otto Warmbier, who the North Korean sent back to the United

States unfortunately, to die, and so this is a very strong message coming from Washington.

They want to double down on pressure at the same time that Seoul is looking to use this Olympics to try to find a way for warmer inter-Korean

relations, but also hopefully, for diplomatic opening between North Korea and (inaudible).

GORANI: But, obviously, Seoul and Washington are two completely different pages. What impact will that have, do you think on this detente between

the two Koreas?

DENMARK: Well, it sets up a very difficult moment for the United States and Korea after the Olympics. The two sides agreed to postpone a very

significant joint military exercises to give room for the Olympics, but those are still on the schedule to happen after the Paralympics are over.

And so, the question remains what happens to those exercises? Will South Korea request that they further postponed, which was something that

actually China and Russia have proposed before the so-called freeze for freeze that Korea and U.S. had previously rejected or will we go through

with it? There is a lot of uncertainty about what happens after these Olympics.

GORANI: But North Korea remains a totalitarian state that persecutes its own citizens and political dissidence and there is widespread poverty and

terrible issues in the country. What is the best that we can hope for -- that we can hope for that comes out of this renewed sort of warmer

relationship between Seoul and Pyongyang?

DENMARK: The problems about the Dreamers definitely is the president's message. In terms of where this goes, the South Koreans have a very

ambitious on idea of that engagement would lead North Koreans to change their approach to be more -- to be more open towards the --

GORANI: In terms of their nuclear weapons or something else?

DENMARK: South Korea would want them to denuclearize and the hope is that by engaging the world, by seeing that the (inaudible) and North Korea would

gradually agree to denuclearize.

GORANI: But why would it do that? Because I hear that also from U.S. officials saying that North Korea must understand that it must

denuclearize, why would it though? I mean, it is bargaining chip and it could look Iran and say, when you find a deal with a country that agrees to

limit its, you know, nuclear proliferation activities then the United States turns around and says that deal is no good anymore.

[15:10:09] DENMARK: I actually agree with you. But the Trump administration has been saying is that maximum pressure will convince Kim

Jong-un that the price of these weapons is too high and that it threatens the stability of his regime.

Unfortunately, for Washington and Seoul, the regime in Pyongyang has given zero indication that it's even willing to consider anything close to

something like denuclearization.

What Kim Jong-un has tried to do, and he actually talked about this in his New Year's Day address, he is trying to turn the page. He is trying to say

we are a nuclear power. This is real. Let's move on and figure out how the world is going to look with this new reality.

GORANI: And also, there was -- many of the experts I've spoken to over the last several weeks say, listen, usually the way these things go, there's a

big of a thaw for big events like an Olympic game, but then immediately after the North Korean leadership will do something highly provocative like

another missile test, for instance.

DENMARK: That's true. That's been (inaudible). One of the challenges that we have however is that that was the pattern of Kim Jong-un's father,

Kim Jong-Il. Kim Jong-un has demonstrated a very different approach that he's greatly accelerate the pace of this testing.

This does not seem to be an effort to try to extract concessions. This is a real capability that he is trying to develop. And if the United States

and Korea go for these exercises, it provides a perfect excuse for North Korea to fight him and say, that's why we need to do these provocations

because the U.S. and Korea committed these acts.

GORANI: So, what's that solution? That's the thing because North Korea sees that it's in best interest to continue this program. It has no reason

to back down is what you are saying? So, what's the solution?

DENMARK: This is why people like me tend to refer to this as the land of (inaudible) options.

GORANI: Right.

DENMARK: As the military options are terrible, diplomatically in some way accepting North Korea's nuclear program either explicit or implicitly would

have tremendously negative implications on what some people are looking at as one strategy look like has to contain continued deterrence against North

Korea without trying to engage them.

But it also comes with significant challenges and risks (inaudible) several in the administration (inaudible) have been pointing out. So, there is no

good answer to this and that's why it that many administrations before the Trump administration and so far (inaudible) the Trump administration

(inaudible).

GORANI: Abraham Denmark, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your insight into this story today.

Well, speaking out of the Olympics, dozens of Russian athletes have lost an 11th-hour bid to take part in the games. The Court of Arbitration for

Sport rejected their appeal. The International Olympic Committee banned Russia from participating as a national team after it found the country

committed widespread doping violations.

However, more than a hundred Russians are going to compete under a neutral flag after they proved that they were clean. Oren Liebermann has more from

Moscow.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we watched the Russian athletes walk into the Olympic Stadium in the opening ceremony. They had to walk in

under a generic flag, the Olympic athletes from Russia flag, and they were led by what appeared to be a Korean woman carrying the Olympic flag.

They wore generic clothing with a white scarf and the Olympic rings on it and yet you could see from their faces and their smiles that they were

happy to be there, and they were excited to be there even if they could not carry the Russian flag or compete officially under the name of Russia.

And yet we have heard from coaches on the Russian team as well as Russian politicians, who've described the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision

not to allow the Russian athletes to compete as shameful, political, and all lies.

So, you've recently gotten that sense of anger and disappointment as dozens of Russian athletes tried to make a last-ditch attempt to the Court of

Arbitration for Sport to try to compete against an International Olympic Committee decision to ban Russian athletes who weren't individually shown

to be clean.

So, this was essentially their last attempt, there has been a promise by some Russians to try to appeal that decision from the court to the Swiss

Supreme Court. And yet, that would be purely a symbolic move as it would not change the fact that now with the Olympics underway there wouldn't be a

chance for them to compete.

The court decision itself was actually a technical decision. It ruled that the IOC, the International Olympic Committee made its decision based on

eligibility and that the Russian athletes hadn't shown any bias or discrimination.

So, it was not going to overturn the ban and yet you still have that sense of anger from Russians, who feel like this was purely a political decision

against Russia. We saw the International Olympic Committee welcomed the decision by the court not to overrule the IOC.

We also saw the World Anti-Doping Agency welcomed the court's decision. We also saw the IOC saying, it regrets that it's not seeing any sort of

contrition or regret on the part of systemic Russian doping.

[15:15:02] And yet now with the Olympics underway, these Russian athletes are competing under once again, this generic flag of Olympic athletes for

Russia. If everything goes well over the course of the Olympics, next few weeks, the IOC has

raised the possibility of it that in the closing ceremony, these athletes will be able to walk under a Russian flag -- Hala.

GORANI: Oren Liebermann in Moscow.

Still to come, Donald Trump is speaking out about a top aide who resigned over domestic abuse allegations saying he hopes he has wonderful career

ahead of him. We're live in Washington next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Well, we haven't heard him commenting about the stock market yet, but Donald Trump is making his first public remarks on a former top aide

accused of domestic abuse saying, he, quote, "absolutely wishes him well."

Rob Porter resigned as staff secretary Wednesday, a high-level position, in the White House after allegations emerged he abused both of his ex-wives.

Sources tell CNN, senior White House officials knew about the claims against Porter for months but did nothing.

Today, Mr. Trump didn't express any sympathy for the women Porter allegedly abused. He did not mention them at all in fact, but he did heath praised

on Porter himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We wish him well. He worked very hard. I found out about it recently and I was surprised by

it, but we certainly wish him well. It's obviously tough time for him.

He did a very good job when he was in the White House and we hope he has a wonderful career. Hopefully, he will have a great career ahead of him, but

it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly, he is also very sad.

Now he also, as you probably know, he says he is innocent and I think you have to remember that he said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent.

So, you will have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well, did a very good job while he was at the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Donald Trump there defending the ex-aide accused of domestic abuse against two of his -- against his two ex-wives. Jeremy Diamond is at the

White House and joins me now with more. So, this was a very strong defense of Rob Porter, Jeremy.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It was, and, you know, frankly, it is something that we have come to expect from this president, you know,

it's how he has responded in the past to other types of allegations that his own political allies have faced.

You know, you'll remember back when Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate faced allegations that he had molested children. The

president came out and defended him and pointed in particular to Roy Moore's own denials and not so much talking about the allegations against

him.

And so, we saw very much the same thing today, with the president talking about his staff secretary's denials of these allegations, rather than

giving any credit to the two women, who came out on the record to say that Rob Porter when they were married to him, physically and emotionally abuse

them.

[15:20:11] And we did not hear from the president any sense of sympathy for those women. Instead, what we heard was praising his time at the White

House, the job that Rob Porter has done here, which by all accounts has been commended by his colleagues here.

But when you are talking about the president of United States responding to this, I think some folks were perhaps hoping for something a bit different

from the president, perhaps at least an acknowledgment of these allocations -- that these very serious allegations that these two women have made

against Rob Porter.

GORANI: And we are seeing in these images, John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, and the big question is, did he know about these

allegations? I mean, after all, was there not a delay in his background check because he had some issues regarding these allegations of domestic

abuse?

So, if the chief of staff and other high-level White House officials knew months ago about these allegations, why keep on pushing him to chew more

and more to higher and higher profile positions in the White House?

DIAMOND: That's right. And this story is nowhere close to over at this point. You know, there are many questions that still remain about the

particulars of what Chief of Staff John Kelly knew, what the White House Counsel Don McGahn knew about these allegations.

You know, we have learned through our resources that in recent months, the White House had become of these allegations against Rob Porter and the

denials that we have heard so far from inside the White House were that, you know, they did not know the particulars of it.

But they did not know the extent to which these allegations were being leveled against Rob Porter or that the specific abuse that these women were

going to allege, we are getting conflicting reports about.

But what is clear is that John Kelly and other senior White House officials knew months ago that Porter was being accused of some kind of domestic

abuse and that should be perhaps in of itself a strong statement and clearly, we did not the action on this from the White House until after

these allegations surfaced.

And even then, we saw this defense initially from John Kelly, the chief of staff of Rob Porter and it was only until later when the kind of uproar

surrounding these allegations mounted and after Rob Porter's resignation from the White House then did we see John Kelly come out and expressed

concern about some of these allegations.

So, a lot of questions still swirling, and this is also putting some pressure on John Kelly and his role as chief of staff with a lot of White

House officials and others outside the White House. Some of the president's allies beginning to question his status as chief of staff.

GORANI: And the communications director, a young woman by the name of Hope Hicks, who is in a romantic liaison relationship with Rob Porter. What is

her situation now?

DIAMOND: That's right. Well, what we learned a couple days ago was that Hope Hicks was in fact involved in the crafting of the response to the

initial allegations that Rob Porter was facing, which on its face, it would seem normal given that Hope Hicks is the communications director.

But when you add in the fact that she has been dating Rob Porter for some time now, obviously, her judgments and conflicts of interest, those kinds

of questions come into focus. And what we have learned is that the president himself has been slightly frustrated that Hope Hicks did not

recuse herself initially from crafting that response.

However, let us underline the fact that Hope Hicks has been around the president. She is one of his longest-serving aides and we do expect that

she will continue to maintain his trust and confidence over time.

But at the moment, there are a lot of questions pointed questions being directed her way given her relationship with Porter and the role that she

played in rebuffing those allegations -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. It is a web of relationships there and a story that's still developing. Jeremy Diamond, thanks very much live at the White

House.

One of Rob Porter's ex-wives as he began verbally abusing her almost right after their wedding day, and just months after their honeymoon, Jennie

Willoughby filed for protective order after she says he punched her a glass door.

She told CNN's Anderson Cooper that she experienced low-grade, constant terror throughout their four-year marriage. He asked her why she stayed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIE WILLOUGHBY, EX-WIFE OF ROB PORTER: That's the question that I'm asked a lot is, why did you stay if he was a, quote/unquote, "monster?"

And the reality is he is not a monster. He is an intelligent, kind, chivalrous, caring professional man and he is deeply troubled, angry and

violent. I don't think those things are mutually exclusive.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And the people he works with may not have seen that side of him at all?

WILLOUGHBY: Of course not. Of course not. It is reserved for the most intimate and often honorable moment in his life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So, this is the ex-wife of Rob Porter, who resigned from the White House over these domestic abuse allegations. And the drama just does not

end when it comes to the former "Apprentice" star turned White House aide, turned reality TV contestant once again.

[15:25:09] Omarosa Manigault Newman, you'll remember her. She was a White House staffer until just a few months ago, she is dishing on Donald Trump

now that she's left the White House and become a contestant on where else, "Celebrity Big Brother."

She said she haunted by the president's tweets and said this when asked about America's future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, CONTESTANT, CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER": Don't say that. Because we are worried, but I need to say no, it's going to OK. OK,

not it's going to not be OK, it's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: The White House is dismissing Omarosa's comments saying she had, quote, "Limited contact with President Trump."

Now let's get a check on the stock market. They've been wildly volatile during today's trading session. Here is a quick look at the big board.

The Dow is now up. The last time I looked we were losing hundreds of points. What is going on? We out 45 just below 24,000.

For more, let's go to Claire Sebastian. What is this roller coaster ride today down to, Claire?

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, I think there's a sense that the volatility has almost taken on a life of its own. The (inaudible)

are now playing tag of war. Traders are telling us that we hit key technical levels on the S&P 500 at that bottom of the market today.

And that some of (inaudible) come up and now we are seeing this kind of tag of war play out. But another very volatile day as you said, we are moving

-- we've moved in a kind of 800-point range today.

It was up 350 points then down 500. Those fears that we've seen through the week of inflation of rising interest rates, deficit spending, those are

still playing out, but certainly, the traders and investors that I've been speaking to in the last hour say that they do think that at this point the

market is oversold. And they are I think moving back in and then picking up some bargains -- Hala.

GORANI: And what is -- what are we looking at going forward because it is going to be very difficult to sustain investor if these wild swings

continue.

SEBASTIAN: Well, absolutely. But I think as I said many people do think that the market is now, you know, pretty much at its bottom and we may see

it come back up. They are saying to me that they are going to look at, you know, moving back into some stocks picking up some holdings.

I think the next week will be crucial. They are the school of thought down here that you don't bottom out on a Friday afternoon. So, you know, I

think Monday will be crucial, but then again, Hala, we're going into the last half hour --

GORANI: Also, Claire, I was going to say we hear a lot of investors and analysts say we think we've hit the bottom and then lo and behold, we lose

another 500 points. If it was possible to predict market movements like that, we'd all be much richer than we are.

SEBASTIAN: Well, yes, and this is the last half hour of trading and you know, how to end that. If you want to be proven wrong, predict what's

going to happen in the last half hour in the Dow this week.

GORANI: That is correct. So, we're up 84, I predict, let's see. I predict it will end in the positive territory. Let's just call it that, up

50 points. Claire, have a great weekend. Thanks very much.

Still to come tonight, we got an exclusive look at what U.S. forces and their allies are facing inside Syria. Why ISIS could be the least of their

worries now.

Plus, another brick wall for Brexit, this time endangering a condition that could leave Britain reeling. That is next. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:30:48] GORANI: Now, what is the U.S. military's role in Syria? I mean, initially in the first few years of the conflict, it appeared as

though the United States was more willing to disengage than involve itself more. But now it appears as though its role is growing more complicated

and more dangerous. U.S. special operations forces have to watch for attacks from pro government forces as well as from ISIS, and also, there is

the big looming question over all of this. What is the United States doing in Syria anyway?

Our Nick Paton Walsh gained exclusive access, after a recent pro-regime assault, and he joins me now. He's back in Kuwait City. So tell us about

what you experience with these Special Forces that day, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly that particular attack which happened on Wednesday night, Thursday morning

was extensive. Lasted for hours and involves a pro-Syrian regime forces with tanks and artillery quite complex amount of armor moving a great

length to 500 fighters to where the well-known Syrian Kurdish position. Foreign side territory held by this because that was manned by American

commanders. So really, you might say perhaps the first time we've seen pro-regime loyalist militia, actually engage in what some sort of ground

offensive against American forces there. A stark moments, one was responded in the loss of may over 100 potential pro-regime loyalist fighter

lives, but showed really a growing dangers perhaps that American troops face inside Syria. Here's what we saw.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: The main reason America says it's still in Syria is out there in the cold dust that hides the remnants of ISIS.

Over the years, berms like this have slowly pinned ISIS down into smaller and smaller territory. Their last sliver of desert there on the Syrian

Iraqi border where possibly their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could be hiding out. But in this last stage of the fights the problems and indeed,

the enemies, the Syrian Kurds here and their American allies face continue to mount.

Last night, another new enemy emerged near here. Tanks and 500 militants loyal to the Syrian regime advanced on and shelled American commandos in

their Syrian Kurdish allies not far west of here.

And as these U.S. drone pictures helps show U.S. warplanes planes and gunships killed a hundred of them. These artillery crew were also hit.

Many others then fled. What on earth just happened the night before and why haunts the U.S. Special Operations commander.

JAMIE JARRARD, COMMANDER, SPECIAL OPERATIONS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA: I guess I'm a little bit surprised, whoever that was near the SDF, we're indefensible

positions and knows that their fierce opponent.

WALSH: Did your head begun to spin occasionally when you just look around the guy and where do the enemy stop from what is the good news begin?

JARRARD: It can be complex here if you -- to try to take in to all those factors. The good thing about being in the military is that we usually

have a military mission and our military mission out here is to defeat ISIS.

WALSH: When that attack began this Kurdish commander run the Russian military monitor meant to keep the peace here to watch what was happening.

He told me "There were no movement," he says, "our men that they were happening went out their commission. An hour later he rang an officer a

ceasefire. Strange, Russia is a great power and knows about any move from the regime they bear their responsibility for yesterday."

Kicking ISIS out of Syria and Raqqa below has left a vacuum but also devastation. Nobody knows how many are buried under the rubble below.

Yet, the U.S. is trying to help rebuild to clear the endless mines ISIS hid and even toys or refrigerators paying for new local police lining the

streets.

Well, that's one of the contradictions you're dealing with, you want people to come back but you also have to accept that your men will be safe for

them to do so. He wants help, but at the same, you know you can't stay here forever. You're worried people would end up blaming the U.S. if this

place isn't rebuilt in a heartbeat.

[15:35:10] JARRARD: We've learned lessons the wrong way to do this and I think that we are doing a very good job of making sure that everything

we're doing here is through the Raqqa Civil Council. The governing body here that is dictating and providing the guidance for whatever we are doing

to try to help.

WALSH: ISIS sure they never expected to have U.S. commandos touring their execution amphitheater or even ordering 20 chicken kebabs on the streets

here. Their message to the outside world it's safe enough to come and help rebuild.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was the first person to reopen here," he says, we need basic services, water, electricity and had free

minds in my own home but the local counsel removed them."

WALSH: Life is rushing back here because no one can wait for the rubble to be cleared or mines to be gone. So ignored and desperate these people

wants to let ISIS' horror end. Now, they urgently need something better so it never returns.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: Now, obviously the job description for those U.S. troops does appear to constantly changes. You said they were originally there to fight

ISIS. They're still doing that now, but at the same time, they occasionally find themselves as peacekeepers when it comes to keeping the

Syrian Kurds away from Turkish-backed Syrian rebels in a whole different fronts, out west in that area, but also to in a broad of years sort of

strategic level they all part, some say there to lessen Russian influence, to lessen Iranian influence, to keep U.S. allies in the region. Karma

about that. There's a lot more infrastructure, frankly, though I thought the U.S. forces had theirs would been sort of trying to see where they were

over the past years covering this story. And it is a mission, I think people looking to the White House to work out exactly what its end game

ends up looking like, Hala.

GORANI: Yes, we all have that same question at this stage. There are two Brits who restrict to their citizenship who fought for ISIS, who were

involved in atrocities in video. And what is happening to them? Because they were captured by some Kurdish fighters, I understand.

WALSH: Well, as far as we understand, yes, they were picked up by the Syrian Kurdish fighters in early January, held, eventually the coalition

works out who they really were, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, two members what became known as "the Beatles" because of their sort of

ubiquitous member, Jihadi John, a sickly British accented man who taunted, you might say, in the west as he brutally beheaded a number of western

hostages. He was killed in an airstrike. These two men lived. They all now we understand in SDF, Syrian Kurdish custody. It seems to be some sort

of pause, understand about exactly what the British government intend to do with them and this particular point to, yes, the possibility they lose

their citizenship is certainly on because it hasn't happened already. But this is just been a part of the growing number of post-ISIS problems we

face here. Hala.

GORANI: All right. We'll see what the -- what the British authorities do with them. Good clarifying that they have not been stripped off their

citizenship yet. We'll see where they end up, where they tried in the coming weeks and months.

Let's look more into humanitarian access to some of these areas, you remember yesterday we showed you what's going on in Eastern Ghouta.

Airstrikes over civilian areas and clearly vulnerable civilian suffering as a result. The U.N. Assistant Secretary General Panos Moumtzis is the

Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis and he's in the studio with us this evening. Thanks for being with us. So we were showing

our viewers yesterday and we'll put those images back up. Some of the amateur video coming from the Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus. It's

an absolute disaster what's going on there.

How are you - you're much be in contact with regime authorities to try to get in there.

PANOS MOUMTZIS, U.N. ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL AND REGIONAL HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR THE SYRIA CRISIS: The situation is really quite extreme.

It's outrageous the fact that there is some 400,000 people who have been deceased to start with this 2013, but also in an area where during the last

two months, we haven't been able to bring humanitarian assistance, also an area where there is more than 700 medical cases in need of urgent

evacuation.

GORANI: Why not? What's the problem?

MOUMTZIS: Because we need to get an authorization from the government of Syria - for security reasons, for bureaucratic reasons, or various reasons,

we haven't got that authorization. Protection of civilians is a major concern, because it's an area where the last three days, in particular,

there is quite a heavy shrouding on where they can place with the reports of dozens of people killed and injured. So it's an extraordinary situation

that is happening in East Ghouta.

GORANI: But are you getting anywhere with these discussions? Because frankly, not only does the government not seem willing to allow

humanitarian access in,, it's also according to activists on the ground and what we were showing there with high wide elements video actively

bombarding civilian areas.

[15:40:01] MOUMTZIS: The escalation of the conflict that's also what we see in Italy is quite extraordinary. So on or side, we really have

humanitarians would feel highly frustrated. That's why we're calling for a one month ceasefire. But we also feel at the moment that there is a

failure of humanitarian diplomacy. Governments, political pressure, capitals were able to bring in influence have not been able to bring

results.

GORANI: But you can imagine people listening too today would be also frustrated, because they feel like, well, the U.N. calls on authorities to

impose a ceasefire. To allow humanitarian access in. It doesn't happen. If the situation becomes worst, the misery continues. And so they think

these are just words. What would you say to people who would say these are just words? I know you're doing your best, but they're just work --

MOUMTZIS: Well, as humanitarian workers, our job is to provide humanitarian assistance. And humanitarian crisis cannot be solved through

humanitarian response. A political crisis, a political response is needed and that's really what is lacking in the moment, to be able to have the

will, the ability to bring a change, to bring access for all areas, all people in need. There is 2.9 --

GORANI: But the will isn't there clearly.

MOUMTZIS: The will isn't there. So really we are elevating. We're escalating to an issue. There's also starts a perception in Syria. The

crisis been known for seven years. It's retracted. So after a while, it's no longer in the news. But also there is a sense that there is a piece.

Somehow people here about (INAUDIBLE) the escalation area that we see in these years would have been anything but the escalation. Actually we are

seeing a serious escalation. And particular during the last time.

GORANI: What leverage do you have? Because if you're asking for access or you're asking for a pause in the fighting, you must - how do you present

that case, apart from just asking?

MOUMTZIS: Well, we present, first of all, the human angle of the story. The tragedy that we're seeing on civilians. The impact that is happening.

You had an attack in the market. The people who are in the market, the injured ones were taken to the hospital. Were bombed again in the hospital

an hour later. We keep on asking ourselves, what is it that will bring the change in the Syria crisis?

GORANI: And what is it?

MOUMTZIS: Well, it's the political will. As humanitarians, it's -- I mean, for us, what our job is really to raise our voice, to raise alarm,

and to ask really everybody including the security council, including the governments who have an influence and ability to bring some change on the

ground, because people are suffering and this situation is getting out of hand.

GORANI: Do you have even an ounce of optimism? And then we have to go.

MOUMTZIS: We have to have an optimism.

GORANI: But do you? I know you have to. But do you?

MOUMTZIS: We do. I think we do --

GORANI: You do really?

MOUMTZIS: Yes, we do want to see change.

GORANI: I know you want to see change. Are you fundamentally optimistic?

MOUMTZIS: I am optimistic. I really think that this pressure that continues -- people has to have a hope. We cannot give that hope, so

answer is a yes.

GORANI: Well, thank you very much, Panos Moumtzis, U.N. Assistant Secretary General, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria. Thanks

so much for joining us and best of luck to you.

Brexit talks of a blown-up yet again. This time after the European Union's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier warned that if disagreements continue, the

transition period the U.K. craves could be taken off the table. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHEL BARNIER, EUROPEAN UNION'S CHIEF NEGOTIATOR: The positions of the European Union are very logical, I think. The U.K. wants to enjoy the

advantages of being single market, the customs union and common policies. It has therefore to accept all the rules and the obligations until the end

of the transition. That's very logical. It also has to accept the ineluctable consequences of its decision to leave the European Union, to

leave its institutions and its policies. To be quite frank, if these disagreements persist, the transition is not a given.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, Barnier's statements today actually a push to pound down about one percent. Wow. He was talking. It did bounce back a little bit

later.

Quick reminder for you. There are only 13 months before Brexit happens, people. Reminder. Let's make sense of all of this. Bianca Nobilo joins

me now. So Michel Barnier is the chief EU negotiator. He's basically saying to Britain, what do you -- what is your position? Because if we

don't know what your position is, how can we have a transition period to go from membership of the EU to what?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And he's not just saying that now. He's saying, if you don't tell us, then transition is not a done

deal. Transition is not a given.

GORANI: So a hard Brexit in March in 2019?

[15:45:39.] NOBILO: That is now a possibility. And he said that today. It was the strongest stance that he's taken so far. And of course, the

negotiations that he's going to posture, he's going to try and take a hardline, of course which is more to the EU. But it is really concerning

to see that development especially as it has been an acrimony developing between David Davis and Michel Barnier. This week, David Davis accused him

of discourtesy. He said it was unwise and not in good faith and to have publish these documents saying that the EU would essentially be able to

suspend single market benefits for the U.K. during transition if Britain infringe certainly EU doors and rights.

GORANI: What about the Northern Ireland border? Because we -- I was under the impression that the Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland border would

no become a hard border. But the EU is saying, you're either in or you're out.

NOBILO: So the EU has said today that that's custom checks at the border is inevitable, unavoidable, if the U.K. leaves the customs union and the

single market. Now, of course, Theresa May this week categorically ruled out the U.K. being a member of the customs union. But I spoke to DExEU

earlier this evening, the Department for Exiting the European Union and they told me that it is an absolute requirement, irrespective of the end

deal with the EU, that there is no hard border between the republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. So that's standing firm on that. I've seen

your expression and I shared it. I mean how --

GORANI: But I mean progressing style. It's absolutely a requirement to this, it's absolutely a requirement to that. They're two opposing

positions.

NOBILO: Yes, right. And you mentioned this fact that we don't know what it is that they want. And today, we were supposed to hear from the U.K.

side. They were going to outline their hopes for a future relationships. They called that off. It's the first such events that have been cancelled

so far. So that's quite telling. That's off to two heavy duty meetings that the Brexit wall cabinet, as they're calling it this week to try and

determine what the end state will be. So it's not looking good, as far as the U.K. is concern this week.

GORANI: Thank you, Bianca Nobilo with the very latest on that. We'll be right back after a quick break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: One thing that Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are not liking is the cold factor. The small town in the mountainous part of South Korea was

barely on the map a couple of years ago. And now after years of preparation, it's ready to host more than two million visitors. Ivan

Watson takes us and you on a tour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Winter Olympics have begun. A festival of athletics, music and culture in the frigid mountains of South

Korea.

Until recently, most people around the world probably never heard of Pyeongchang. It's a small South Korean skier's town of around 43,000

people. That's now home to the 2018 Winter Olympics

The Korean host have been preparing for years. Pyeongchang may not be big, but it's offering extra activities in the sidelines of the games to

entertain visitors from around the world. The mayor of Pyeongchang tells me he anticipates two million visitors during the Olympics.

[15:50:53] Unlike previous winter Olympic host cities, Vancouver and Sochi, warm temperatures are not going be a problem in Pyeongchang. It's well

below freezing here day and night. Surprisingly snow is an issue because there's very little precipitation here right now. So even the organizers

of this annual snow festival have to rely on man-made snow."

The snow festival and ski slopes may look festive and frost, but for now most of the surrounding hills look pretty brown.

We've left the mountains of Pyeongchang and Mr. Kim is driving us about an hour away to the coastal city of Gangneung. And that's where the venues are

for other events like figure skating and ice hockey. We also hear that the weather there should be quite a good bit warmer.

In Gangneung, the venues are more concentrated and located within walking distance of each other. Sight-seers looking for something different may

visit the city's coastal unification park. Where the icy weather isn't really that much warmer. Here, we find a submarine.

PARK SIN-WOO, OLYMPIC VOLUNTEER: This submarine is from North Korea. And it invaded South Korea, Gangneung in 1996, September 23.

WATSON: You can even take a tour of the captured North Korean submarine, provided you wear this helmet.

Along the coast, barbed wire and military fortifications protecting South Korea from its northern neighbor.

South Korea is calling these the peace games. But the fact is that the Olympic venues are in close proximity to the demilitarized zone and to

North Korea. Both of these countries are still technically at war. A reality that makes up part of the backdrop of these Winter Olympics. Ivan

Watson CNN, Gangneung, South Korea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Well, more to come including, oops, he did it again. The topless Tongan stealing the spotlight at the Winter Games. Why you might recognize

his face and everything else about him. Coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: All right. Well, it has been a wild ride for U.S. markets this week with the final trading day of the week underway. Today is no

exception.

What is going on? We were up several hundreds and down almost 500 and up slightly then down slightly and now it looks like we're going to finish the

trading session. Up almost 500 points. There's still six minutes left of trading. And goodness knows what will happen during that time. This is of

course capping off a week where the markets have been all over the place. Here's a reminder of what the Dow did Monday to Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Close bell now ringing on Wall Street. Dow Jones Industrials off more than 650 points. It's a gamble. Bring the misery to

a close.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) that is fueling concerns down here about inflation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know what's going to happen Monday. Black Monday again, that's possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. stocks doesn't set to open lower today. Rising bond yields see one concerned. As you can see down more than one percent

already.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to look at Dow right now, down 753 points.

QUEST: This is frightening. There's no getting away from it. What you're seeing is the front coming off the top.

[15:55:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the bell at the New York Stock exchange there, as the market comes to a close.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: VIX have more than doubled today. That really shows that we're entering a new chapter here.

QUEST: U.S. stock almost into free fall, because the Dow suffers its worst single day point fall. Just smashes off the tradeoff. The Dow take this

massive time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to see this breezing selloff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Dow has now opened in correction. That's down 10 percent from its peak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volatility is back. I'm telling you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, there's a lot of preference and a lot of people who were stuck in trade, they'd have to get out of there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Dow roaring back today after yesterday's dramatic selloff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the end, we've got the best points gained in two years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I've ever seen anything so bold in my life in the last couple of days have been, Richard. It's like the old days

again.

QUEST: Right. This is the card of the day. But the Dow had been up very sharply up about the cost of (INAUDIBLE) points. But we are closing down.

This is not over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. This is the beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, the brief harm on the stock markets has gone. And in New York, a thousand point drop on the Dow. So the Dow is now once

again in a correction mode. It would seem to suggest it's here for a while.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And proven other otherwise at the moment, it has to be defensive. And it caught everything would indicate that we're going to

trade lower.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: OK. We'll see how things go on Monday.

Now, one last look at the Winter Olympics before we go. The coldest Olympics in history. Pyeongchang is a frosty minus three degree Celsius

right now. But there was a break in the freeze during the opening ceremony, when one athlete raised temperatures all over the world, once

again. Sorry. This topless oiled up flag bearer from Tonga, Pita Taufatofua, if you're getting a case of deja vu, it's because he turned up

in exactly the same entire in the slightly more forgiving temperatures at Brazil Summer Games in 2016. He's a good-looking guy. Well, he was the

first Tongan person to compete in taekwondo, now, he's hoping for a better result, as the first person from Tonga to compete in cross-country skiing.

You may think he won't get very far if he keeps going around topless in subzero temperatures, but never fear. Pita says, "I won't freeze. I am

from Tonga." Why don't he put some clothes on for his skiing competition?

Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend, if it's your weekend. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END