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China's Parliament to Remove Presidential Limits; Trump Steals the Show in Pennsylvania; U.S.-North Korean Talks; Bannon Stirs Up Europe's Far Right; Poison in the U.K.; Interview with Stormy Daniels. Aid Convoys Struggle to Reach Eastern Ghouta; Al-Shabaab's Recruiting Ground. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired March 11, 2018 - 05:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Keep America great, exclamation point. Keep America great.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Donald Trump announcing his slogan for the 2020 presidential election while leading a rally for someone else.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Meanwhile, a historic vote in China means President Xi can lead the country for as long as he wants.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also this hour, Syria's military ramping up its ground offensive while rescuers say more airstrikes have killed dozens of people, including four children.

VANIER (voice-over): It's great to have you with us, I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta starts right now.


VANIER: So President Xi Jinping, one of the most powerful leaders in decades, has actually solidified his grip on power even more. As expected, the National People's Congress, that's China's parliament, you see it here, has overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to abolish presidential term limits.

ALLEN: That means President Xi could now officially rule indefinitely, perhaps for life. Critics say this effectively turns him into a dictator but his supporters say it will bring consistency to China's policymaking for years to come.

Removing China's presidential term limits will have major consequences, what will be the ramifications. Matt Rivers has been covering this story for us, he's live in Beijing and of course this happening just about an hour ago, a historic change -- Matt.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. This is something that Xi Jinping has been working on for several years, although we didn't know that he was planning on proposing constitutional amendments.

But this rubber stamp parliament did exactly what Xi Jinping and the upper leadership of the Communist Party wanted it to, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of these changes.

What this effectively means is that Xi Jinping can stay on as president for so long as he wants. But this is just the latest in a series of power grabbing moves that Xi Jinping has engaged in over the last six to eight months.

You saw it in late October of last year, when the most important power grabbing move took place, that was when the 19th Party Congress happened here in Beijing. You saw Xi Jinping get reelected as the general secretary of the Communist Party. That's where the real power in China lies.

But further than that, he had Xi Jinping Thought, as it's formerly known here in China, inscribed into the Communist Party constitution. That fact alone made him the most important Chinese political leader since Mao Zedong, the founder of Communist China.

The fact that he can now stay on as president for as long as he wants just further solidifies his overall power in this country. This is Xi Jinping's China and, at this point, absolutely no one is challenging that publicly.

ALLEN: Privately, you know, the people of China weren't asked about this, I guess. And so he's liked by the government there.

But what about the people of China?

RIVERS: It's really hard to get a sense really of, you know, a broad sense, a true sense of public opinion here. There are certainly going to be a lot of people who approve of this. I mean, Xi Jinping's anti- corruption drive over his five years in office has been wildly popular amongst the middle and lower classes here, who viewed the previous years before Xi Jinping took office as rampant with corruption.

But critics would say that was also a very convenient way for Xi Jinping to get rid of his political opponents. But there is certainly going to be a lot of dissent with this move in the country, a fear of returning to one-man rule.

The years under Mao Zedong in this country, especially during the great leap forward in the '50s, the cultural revolution in the mid '60s, going into the early '70s, those were horrific years for China. That was a brutal dictatorship. This country was run by the whims of one man that led to incredibly dire consequences.

No one is arguing that Xi Jinping is Mao Zedong. China is a very different country than it was 40-plus years ago. But people here have long memories. They remember what those days were like and there is absolutely a fear that a return to one-man rule could have serious consequences, not only right now but also when Xi Jinping eventually begins to --


RIVERS: -- leave office, who will succeed him, what will that process look like, that has a lot of people nervous here in China.

ALLEN: One can understand. Matt Rivers for us there. Thank you, Matt.

VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump Saturday visited the state of Pennsylvania to try and help a Republican candidate in a tight congressional race.

ALLEN: But that speech quickly turned into a campaign stop for Mr. Trump with a speech that focused heavily on his upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He says he has made progress where his predecessors could not.


TRUMP: We've had a problem for years with North Korea. In fact, President Obama said it was the biggest problem we had and South Korea went there, we put very, very strong sanctions and lots of other things we've been doing right from the first day I was in office.


VANIER: Donald Trump also told the crowd that he would try to make a deal that's a win for both sides.


TRUMP: We're going to have a meeting and there's no more missiles going off and they want to denuclearize. They are thinking about that. Who knows what's going to happen. Hey, who knows?

If it happens, if it doesn't happen, I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world and for all of these countries, including, frankly, North Korea. That's what I hope happens.


VANIER: Ivan Watson joins us live from Seoul, South Korea.

Listen, Ivan, you listened to that speech by Mr. Trump like I did. And it's quite striking to hear what he just said. Either there is a deal, either there isn't, it doesn't sound so far like there has been a whole lot of preparation on the U.S. side, going into this meeting.

I know it's still weeks away but Mr. Trump is talking about this like it's just any other meeting. IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and what's really striking is we're learning a little bit more from one of the participants in that Oval Office meeting at the White House on Thursday, the meeting that resulted in President Trump accepting to have a meeting with the North Korean leader because the leader of the South Korean delegation, South Korea's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, he has just arrived back here in South Korea.

And he told journalists -- and we have confirmed this from the president's office -- that, at that meeting on Thursday, it was President Trump who was pushing to meet with Kim Jong-un in April or as early as possible, as they put it.

In fact, it was the two national security advisers, Chung and the U.S. national security adviser, Herbert Raymond McMaster, who pushed to say, hey, let's wait until after the South Korean president meets with the North Korean leader. And that's scheduled to take place in April.

So it very much appears that President Trump was driving, was pushing towards trying to get this meeting, this historic potential meeting with the North Korean leader, as soon as possible. The reasons behind that, we can only really speculate at this point.

Take a look at a tweet that President Trump sent in the last day where he wrote, quote, "North Korea has not conducted a missile test since November 28th, 2017, and has promised not to do so through our meetings. I believe they will honor that commitment."

You are not hearing anything there about the U.S.-led, so-called maximum pressure campaign, imposing sanctions on North Korea that just came into force, the most recent round of which in the last couple of weeks. You are not hearing him call the North Korean leader "Little Rocket Man" or names like that. There's clearly been a shift on Trump's part towards trying to talk this out instead of threatening and insulting.

VANIER: We know what President Trump wants, he wants North Korea to denuclearize -- Cyril.

Do we know -- do we have any sense of what the North Korean leader is hoping to get out of this meeting?

WATSON: Well, no. And in fact, we haven't heard anything official out of Pyongyang since President Trump accepted to meet with Kim Jong- un. There has not been an official statement put out by the North Korean state media yet; we haven't seen it mentioned in any of the state television news bulletins.

All we know is what the South Korean delegation brought from their meeting with the North Korean leader, face-to-face in Pyongyang, to the White House. We also know that the leader of the South Korean delegation, that he told journalists here in Seoul today that Kim Jong-un's decision to hold the meeting is courageous.

So it will be very interesting to hear how North Korea interprets --


WATSON: -- this latest flurry of diplomacy. And it will be especially important because North Korea and the U.S. do not have direct diplomatic relations.

So the question of how to set up a summit of heads of state between the U.S. and North Korea is especially daunting. And we're hearing the South Koreans basically propose themselves as potential enablers to help do this, since they are the ones with the most direct face-to- face experience with the North Koreans at this juncture -- Cyril.

VANIER: You have to wonder how the North Koreans interpret the speech that Mr. Trump gave. They must have listened to it -- or at least they will. Ivan Watson reporting live from Seoul, South Korea, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

ALLEN: We will talk more about North Korea with our guest in a moment but the president touched on many other issues at that rally Saturday in Pennsylvania.

VANIER: Keep in mind he was there to help get Rick Saccone elected to Congress. Instead of that, he turned it to his first speech of the 2020 campaign. He talked up his steel and aluminum tariffs which went over well in the steel-producing state.

Mr. Trump also talked about executing drug dealers and blasted sanctuary cities. Those are cities where local law enforcement do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities looking for non-violent illegal immigrants.


TRUMP: Today I'm calling on Congress to stop funding sanctuary cities so we can save American lives. The funding bill should not give precious and massive taxpayer grants to cities aiding and abetting criminals. It's what they do.


VANIER: And also Mr. Trump announced what apparently could be maybe the slogan for his reelection campaign.


TRUMP: But our new slogan when we start running in, can you believe it, two years from now, is going to be keep America great, exclamation point. Keep America great.


ALLEN: Let's talk more now about President Trump's rally there in Pennsylvania. We're joined by Inderjeet Parmar, professor of international politics at City University of London.

Inderjeet, thank you for joining us. Let's start first with what is going on, what might go on, with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Is this a meeting that you think will take place?

INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY LONDON: Well, that's a big question in itself, given that the North Koreans have yet to speak officially on the question, either in one way or another.

But I would think that if it wasn't going to take place, I think they probably would have rejected it by now. But I think they seem to be probably waiting and seeing, to see what kind of ideas or criticisms or sort of boundaries are coming out in the debate, which has now begun in the United States.

But there should be talks, that there should be some kind of dialogue, I think that is probably a very good development. What is the source of that development, whether it's U.N. sanctions, which was reported by China and Russia as well, the informal discussions and talks and collaboration of the Olympics with the South Koreans and North Koreans, or just pure President Trump's pressure.

Obviously that is a big question. But it's still a moot point whether these talks will actually take place.

ALLEN: It's certainly intriguing, isn't it, when you consider the rhetoric between these two leaders and where we are now. And our reporter there in Seoul was talking about South Korea's role here.

Could South Korea be important to facilitate this and to figure out the parameters of such a meeting?

PARMAR: Well, I would think they have a very, very direct interest and I think there has been a bit of a thaw in relations between the North and the South. But I would say that the big stumbling block may be -- I think one thing is, the talks -- the idea of talks is very good. The idea that North Korea has talked about denuclearization is not a bad thing, either.

But how well prepared is the United States for any kind of meaningful dialogue which may lead to something real in diplomatic terms, something like a kind of Iran nuclear agreement, which allows a degree of -- very high degree of inspections?

I think that's the problem because, as you know, there is no ambassador to South Korea; Victor Chou was turned down. There are a number of people who have -- North Korea hands in the State Department, who've retired or resigned recently.

Secretary of State Tillerson has been reforming or reorganizing the department; diplomacy has taken a second place overall in this sort of --


PARMAR: -- military rhetoric. So I think the key thing is, how serious are the two sides in going to those talks with something meaningful? And I'm not sure how well prepared the United States diplomatically

actually is. Secretary of State Tillerson was on a different continent altogether when he heard that President Trump had accepted this so-called summit.

ALLEN: Right. The two haven't always been on the same page. Hopefully they will get on the same page with this meeting. It could be so very important.

I want to talk to you about Mr. Trump in general and some things that he said this at this rally Saturday, when he announced the slogan for his next presidential run in 2020. He went off script; that's what he does. Let's listen to some of his comments and then we will talk about it.


TRUMP: The only way to solve the drug problem is toughness. When I was in China and other places, by the way, I said, Mr. President, do you have a drug problem?

No, no, no, we do not.

I said, huh, big country, 1.4 billion people, right? Not much of a drug problem.

I said what do you tribute that to?

Well, the death penalty.

I think it's a discussion we have to start thinking about, don't you agree?

I don't know if you're ready.


ALLEN: There he goes again, the death penalty for people who are convicted of a drug crime. That sounds like Mr. Duterte in the Philippines. And again, Mr. Trump usually having favorable things to say about those leaders that have just overwhelming power in their countries.

PARMAR: Sure. I think President Trump considers himself to be a strong leader. He admires other what he believes are strong leaders. And I think he's now in full-time election mode.

November 2018 is the target; there is a special election coming up in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. And the candidate there, Saccone, is not doing very well. There is a right-wing Democrat candidate, Lamb, who loves firing machine guns, is pro-tariff and is pretty right-wing who is challenging. And it could well be that this is a very embarrassing defeat.

So I think President Trump is ramping to the right in regard to law and order rhetoric and I think he's dragging the Democratic Party further to the right as well. And I think what effectively this appears to mean is the party system, the consensus, is shifting to the right; whereas American public opinion, actually broadly, has been shifting to the left.

If you look at the teachers' strikes and those who are supporting the teachers in various states around the country, what you see is a greater demand for the sorts of things that President Trump promised in the 2016 campaign, in which Bernie Sanders and others also promised, that was much better health care, much better sort of social welfare, a greater level of, if you like, support for the vulnerable in the society.

But the drug crisis is being kind of converted into a campaign about law and order, about moral sort of -- you know, sort of deficits in those who are taking.

But if you look at the opioid crisis in the United States, which is claiming tens of thousands of lives, that's not a law and order question. That's is a question of a deep social crisis.

And when Trump says that there is not much of a drug problem in China or elsewhere, when you look at the suicide rates in China and many of those societies, they're going up because the social crisis is also very deep there.

And I think a law and order solution doesn't really tackle the deep roots of those sorts of crises. And I'm afraid that the Democrats seem to be dragging further to the right behind that consensus as well. And I think that's quite worrying going forward.

ALLEN: We always appreciate your analysis, Inderjeet Parmar for us there in London. Thank you.

PARMAR: Thank you very much.

VANIER: It is not often that a small cathedral city in England sees police in hazmat suits but this is no ordinary investigation. Up next, we will have the latest on the nerve agent attack on the former Russia spy.

ALLEN: Also an exclusive interview with the porn actress suing the U.S. president.





VANIER: The snow and the slush from the last storm have barely melted in the northeastern United States and now people have to watch for yet another late season weather maker.

(WEATHER REPORT) ALLEN: British police are scouring hundreds of pieces of evidence and witness testimonies, hoping to find whoever poisoned a former Russian spy and his daughter with a dangerous nerve agent.

VANIER: On Saturday the British home secretary held an emergency meeting with senior cabinet members. She told reporters afterward the government is committed to offering investigators all the support they need.

ALLEN: Meantime, Sergei and Yulia Skripal and a police officer who assisted them are still in serious condition. CNN's Erin McLaughlin is tracking the latest for us and joins us now from England.

Erin, they have a lot of leads but this is still very much a mystery.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie. And British home secretary Amber Rudd, out of that emergency meeting yesterday, detailing what is a painstaking and exhaustive investigation.

She said they are currently going over some 200 witness statements, over 240 pieces of evidence, combing key sites here in Salisbury as well, the pizza restaurant, Zizzi's, where the pair --


MCLAUGHLIN: -- had lunch. They're also looking at a local pub as well as Sergei Skripal's home. A lot of attention as well being paid to the local cemetery. That is where Skripal's wife and son are buried; his wife died of cancer in 2012, his son died of liver failure last year.

Over the weekend, hazardous response units moving into the cemetery, sealing it off, seen collecting evidence as well. Military has also been sent here to Salisbury, some 180 military personnel from the Royal Air Force, the army as well as the navy.

The military has specialized decontamination units. Remember, nerve agents normally not seen outside of the battlefield, military really in the best position perhaps to be able to deal with decontaminating a nerve agent situation.

Yesterday we saw them removing an ambulance from an ambulance depot, also removed a police car as well as other objects. So there is a lot going on here in Salisbury. Secretary Rudd making it clear that they are dedicating all the necessary resources to try and solve this mystery. Their priority right now is to establish facts and then apportion blame later -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And, of course, the people affected still in the hospital. Erin McLaughlin for us, thank you, Erin.

VANIER: When you think things could hardly get worse for civilians in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, they do. We will have a live report ahead.

ALLEN: Also, how to make money because of your name. Stormy Daniels uses the Trump scandal as a business advantage. We'll have an exclusive interview in a moment.





VANIER: And welcome back. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.


The U.S. and Chinese presidents are each contemplating their political futures in different ways. President Trump says his slogan for the 2020 presidential campaign will be Keep America Great.

VANIER: Meanwhile Chinese President Xi Jinping could now rule indefinitely, maybe for life. China's parliament has overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to abolish president term limits.

ALLEN: Earlier I spoke with Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a long time adviser to the Chinese government and I asked him whether President Xi can now be considered a dictator and whether this could be good in any way for the Chinese people.


ROBERT LAWRENCE KUHN, CHINESE GOVERNMENT ADVISER: A large majority of the people think it's good to have stable, consistent leadership. Only history will be the final judge.

But there are substantial problems when you have one-man rule. It's clear. You're dependent upon the physical health; you're a hostage to fortune of an individual, you're making a system below them less robust.

So if something happens, there could be more political turmoil after that. So look, there are tradeoffs. Every system of government has tradeoffs. So China is going big-time for individual control, consistency, not just for five years or 10 years but now into the foreseeable future.

They're setting the dates; 2035 may be sort of an intermediary date which people are looking to achieve. During this time, they're putting their -- China's putting its fortune on the shoulders of one individual. There's no question about that.

And hopefully the people around him will be loyal enough and have enough vision to tell him the truth, even if he doesn't like to hear certain things.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: We will see what happens in the future. That decision was made just a little over an hour ago there in Beijing.

VANIER: Now let's turn to a CNN exclusive. Porn actress Stormy Daniels talked to CNN as this scandal surrounding her alleged affair with Donald Trump continues to unfold. Earlier this week she sued the U.S. president, saying that the so-called hush money agreement she signed is invalid because he never signed it.

ALLEN: Trump's long time attorney insists he acted alone. The attorney, the apparent effort to buy Daniel's silence. Mr. Trump, of course, has denied all of these allegations. CNN's Nick Valencia interviewed Daniels at a South Florida strip club, where she was performing.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's Friday night in Florida, outside the Solid Gold strip club and the featured guest for the evening has just arrived.

Stormy Daniels is an adult film actress, but these days she's best known for the alleged affair she claims to have had with the President of the United States. A claim the White House denies.

The news about her 2006 to 2007 intimate relationship with Donald Trump has brought new life to her career, she says. In an exclusive audio interview with CNN, after her first performance since suing Trump over a nondisclosure agreement, Daniels declined to talk about her recent lawsuit against the President. She did, however, talk about how the alleged affair has impacted her life.

STORMY DANIELS, PORN STAR: It is sort of a double-edged sword, where a lot of people are very interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that, so I'm getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month and now I'm dancing three or four times a month. So that's been really great. But because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult films that I'm supposed to be promoting and a lot of the mainstream projects I was working on had to be put on hold.

VALENCIA: You have got a lot of --


VALENCIA: -- attention, some of it some negative attention. How are you handling everything?

DANIELS: I have been in the adult business for 17 years. So to make if that long in that business, you have to have a really tough skin. And so most of it rolls off my shoulders because it's an opinion, like, oh, you think I'm a whore, or you think I'm ugly or I'm old or I'm fat or my bobs are too big or too small, whatever. There's nothing along those lines that someone could say to me that I haven't heard. And so, when someone says, hey, you are a whore, I'm like that is successful whore to you. VALENCIA: But this has been different, though, I mean. Has some of it been hurtful at all? I mean, what is your reaction been to it?

DANIELS: The stuff that bothers me is the flat out lies. Like people randomly making up stuff.

VALENCIA: Like what?

DANIELS: Like that I'm broke. I'm actually one of the most successful adult movie directors in the business. I have a contract that has been in place for several years. And I actually just renegotiated and got a new contract. There was already -- the terms were already set before this stuff happened. And I have a -- I got a raise. So I'm doing just fine.

VALENCIA: What do you think about like the circus that's happening? I mean, you know, this was kind of out in 2011, but now it's like a renewed attention on you. And you know, somebody else that we will not name.

DANIELS: I think it's pretty clear that what the new developments comes new interest.

VALENCIA: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want people to know about you and what's going on that you feel has been overshadowed?

DANIELS: Like I just said, that I'm doing what I have always done. I'm writing, directing, performing, dancing. Like none of that has changed. And people are under this huge misconception that's I just started stripping and I have actually been doing this for like 18 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They think you take advantage of the situation.

DANIELS: Right. And that's not true. I was already - now, yes, I'm more in demand. And like I said in the "Rolling Stone" interview, if somebody came up to you and said, hey, you know that job you have been doing forever, how about next week, I pay your quadruple? Show me one person who is going to say no.

VALENCIA: So it's helped you financially?

DANIELS: It's helped me in the short immediate time because obviously more people are coming out and more people in the clubs, that's the more tips. But I have, you know, yet to see how it's going to play out long term.

VALENCIA: When you look back at this stage of your life, this period of your life, what do you think you are going to think about? I mean, what are you going to think about what you are going through right now?

DANIELS: Holy (INAUDIBLE). I mean, is there really anything else to say? VALENCIA: Anything I haven't asked you that's important to know,

anything you would like to talk about while we have a chance?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any more news this week?

VALENCIA: What else should we expect?

DANIELS: I'm not sure what's coming this week, honestly. I mean, you guys work at CNN, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We try to know. That's our job.

VALENCIA: Any comment to the president?

Stormy Daniels has accused the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, of trying to intimidate her or coerce her into remaining silent. It appears that she is doing anything but -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Pompano Beach, Florida.


VANIER: Now an assault by pro government forces in Syria's Eastern Ghouta region intensifies and civilian casualties are mounting. We'll have the latest from that region ahead.

ALLEN: Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The property is too high. There are so many single families with kids here in this area. That way so people -- they are the targets.

ALLEN (voice-over): A mother there whose son is affected by radical Islamic militants, how Kenya became a recruiting ground for Al- Shabaab. We will have the story for you coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.






ALLEN: The Syrian government's offensive on Eastern Ghouta just keeps going; 20 people were killed Saturday. Video shows members of the White Helmets rushing to save lives in the town of Douma. The volunteer rescue group says airstrikes there killed four children.

VANIER: There are reports that more than 1,000 civilians have been killed over the past few weeks. This comes as the Syrian military ramps up its ground campaign. It's reportedly trying to cut off two major towns from the rest of Eastern Ghouta. Jomana Karadsheh is tracking this from neighboring Jordan. She speaks to us from Amman right now.

Jomana, does the regime discriminate between rebel fighters and civilians in this offensive?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, by all accounts, Cyril, this has been a brutal and horrific campaign over the past weeks of relentless bombardment of different parts of Eastern Ghouta. It did seem to us, watching this from a distance, talking to people on the ground, listening to what humanitarian organizations that managed to enter Eastern Ghouta are saying is that no one and nothing has been spared.

Now when it both sides in this conflict, the rebels and the regime, they are both blaming each other for the civilian casualties. The regime says it is the rebel groups that are holding the civilians inside Eastern Ghouta, stopping them from leaving so they can use them as human shields.

On the other hand, you have the rebels, you have actors on the ground, saying, no, it is the regime that is continuing to target civilians. For its part, the regime, with its Russian allies, have announced what they call these humanitarian corridors that would allow civilians to leave.

They announced two in the past week but we have only seen a handful of people taking advantage of that and trying to leave. The regime says, again, it's because the rebels are preventing them from leaving, targeting these humanitarian corridors.

But, you know, you talk to people on the ground and there is a level of fear.

If they try to leave, where will they end up?

They will end up in regime-held areas. So they're worried about the consequences, what will happen to them if they do so. They have been living under rebel control for more than five years.

But we've also received reports of rebels also targeting civilians as they're leaving. We can't verify these reports. But they're certainly out there, Cyril.

But we have to point out that it's not just the regime that is being accused of indiscriminate shelling, rebel fighters, too, from Eastern Ghouta have been accused of targeting Damascus on a daily basis.

Of course, if you compare it, it's the not the same level of violence that we are seeing in Eastern Ghouta but on Saturday alone, the regime said 18 shells hit Damascus. One child was killed and several other people were wounded. So it is civilians on both sides of this front line that continue to be the victim of all this -- Cyril.

VANIER: Jomana, the regime has used air raids and now a ground offensive. Is it a foregone conclusion that they are going to recapture Eastern



KARADSHEH: Well, it looks like it's a matter of time. You know, over the past couple of weeks, we've seen the regime really pushing in with this ground offensive that is obviously coupled with this bombing campaign and shelling of different parts of Eastern Ghouta.

Now they've been pushing on these different fronts, it seems, on the eastern front. That is where they are making these advances, they are gaining ground. On Saturday we did hear from the regime and also from opposition activists on the ground that the regime captured the town of Mesraba.

And it's not just about capturing territory, Cyril; they are trying to cut off different parts of Eastern Ghouta, trying to disrupt rebel supply routes. When you talk to people on the ground it does feel like it's really a matter of time, the question is how is this going to end with both sides vowing to fight until the bitter end.

VANIER: Jomana Karadsheh, reporting from Amman, Jordan, thank you very much.

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson has resumed his schedule in Kenya after scheduling some events Saturday because he was sick. He started his five-nation African visit in Nairobi on Friday. That was the same day that Kenya's top political rivals put their feud to rest.

ALLEN: Kenya's president and its opposition leader jointly urged to push for unity after months of tension. While their political discord may have eased, Kenya still faces an increase in radicalization among young people. CNN's Farai Sevenzo visits one neighborhood that has become a recruiting ground for Islamic militants.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is nearly three years to the day since Al-Shabaab murdered 147 people, mostly students, in Kenya's northern town of Garissa on April the 2nd, 2015.

And for years now, Kenya has been living in the shadow of Al-Shabaab's Islamist insurgency in neighboring Somalia. Kenyan Somalis in this bustling Nairobian neighborhood say they too have felt the reach of the terror group. As Rex Tillerson came in to Nairobi, some had a message for the U.S. Secretary of State.

MOHAMAD ABDULLAHI, FOUNDER, AGENTS FOR PEACE: I would like to advice (INAUDIBLE) when you're addressing issue pertaining to terrorism, do not target only the Muslims or Somalis. You must know that even in Somalia there are victims of the attacks.

SEVENZO: Thirty-three-year-old Mohammad Abdullahi became a peace activist after the Garissa tragedy. He is concerned about Al- Shabaab's recruitment of Kenyan Muslims into his fighting ranks. ABDULLAHI: We have some children from youth who join Al-Shabaab, but not the whole Somali community who join Al-Shabaab. SEVENZO: These groups are recruiting from areas like this and those

who are fighting them have to try and win the hearts and minds of the very same residence of these places.

(INAUDIBLE) Majengo, one of Nairobi's oldest and poorest slums, Muslims that are originally from Somalia are also been recruited. Mothers here have long known that Al-Shabaab has been targeting their children for radicalization, the reason --

LAYLA CHOPKIMOI, MOTHER: Why we are affected in radicalization is because the poverty. The poverty is too high, there are so many single parents with kids here in this area, that's why -- so people -- they are the target.

SEVENZO: Layla Chopkimoi's son was recruited at his local mosque, she fought hard to keep him from going to Somalia.

CHOPKIMOI: He had a phone, I took the phone and whatever. I say, "Why are you getting this phone? You're not watching." Shoes, nice shoes, 7,000, I can't afford.

SEVENZO: She saved her son by sending him away to Qatar, in the Middle East far from these streets. But for this widowed mother of four, the outcome was very different. One of her sons converted to Islam in 2013 and became a Hadji bandit, he was 13-years-old.

How did he go? How did he live to Somalia? You don't know?


SEVENZO: And you were telling me that he destroyed all his pictures.


SEVENZO: He destroyed everything?


SEVENZO: Her son now 17 called her five months ago.

WANGLOGU: He called me (INAUDIBLE) speaking in a low (INAUDIBLE) I don't know if (INAUDIBLE)

SEVENZO: You never heard from him?

So, how do you know that he's gone?

WANGLOGU: I don't know.

SEVENZO: You just can feel it.

WANGLOGU: I feel there's something.

SEVENZO: You feel that he's dead.

WANGLOGU: I think so.

SEVENZO: I'm sorry. Do you think that --


SEVENZO: -- he was recruited here in Kenya?

WANGLOGU: Of course. I think so.

SEVENZO: Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.


ALLEN: And that's just one mother's pain.

This story sets up an important issue that we are looking at here at CNN and that is freedom. We will have more about that as we push on.




VANIER: Next week CNN is partnering with young people worldwide for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. The date, March 14th.

ALLEN: In advance of My Freedom Day, we're asking people around the world what freedom means to them. Here are some responses.



MONICA, TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR: My name is Monica and I am a human trafficking survivor. What freedom means to me is the ability to let go of the past and embrace the future. What freedom means to me is the ability --


MONICA: -- to love and be loved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means to me is to set Monica and other human traffic victims free. And we can't just be that person that sits and watches. We need to do something about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me, freedom means having equal rights, to be able to go to school every day and to be able to have the freedom of speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is waking up and being able to pursue my dreams. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to means to me that I have my own thoughts and be able to express them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me freedom means the freedom to dream, the freedom to believe that those dreams are attainable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me freedom means the right to speak up and the right to have a say in the policies that affect our lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means to me acceptance of being able to do what I want to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me means personal government over my own body and uninhibited access to my U.N. declared human rights.

NOREEN: My name is Noreen (ph) and I live in Amsterdam. Freedom to me is being able to live life to the full without being exploited or suppressed by anyone.

SAAD (PH): I'm Saad (ph), I live in London. Freedom to me is a lot more than just the right to act, it is the essence of living.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means being able to be who you are, whenever, wherever, say whatever you like and just truly be yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me is the ability to live without restrictions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is having full and equal access to all human rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does freedom mean to you?


ALLEN: March 14th. Thanks for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: That's it from us. I'm Cyril Vanier. I will be back with the headlines in a moment.