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Kurds Have Endured Decades of Pain and Betrayal; Typhoon Hagibis Impacts Rugby World Cup. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 10, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause, live from Studio 7 at CNN World Headquarters.

Abandoned on the battlefield in Syria now disavowed by the U.S. president. Syrian Kurds in the firing line of Turkey's military as Donald Trump dismissed their work as a U.S. ally.

It is just not fair. U.S. president questions the legitimacy of Congress' impeachment inquiry in what is increasingly a battle between Trump and the U.S. Constitution.

The most powerful storm of the year heading to Japan leads to an unprecedented cancellation of matches at the Rugby World Cup.

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VAUSE: Turkey is calling it Operation Key Spring, a military offensive to clear northern Syria of terrorist groups and then return millions of refugees to the region. It began with widespread airstrikes and artillery fire which Ankara claims hit 181 targets on the first day.

But Syrian Kurdish forces in the firing line say a prison holding ISIS detainees was also hit. And now the Kurdish militia, which helped the U.S. defeat ISIS, are fleeing in droves; so, too, civilians. The operation began after Donald Trump withdrew American forces for the region just days ago, essentially a green light of its operation, CNN's coverage begins with international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh on the Syria-Turkey border.

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NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A tense afternoon of airstrikes and artillery barrage around the town of Tal Abyad, where we were standing on the Turkish side of the border in Akcakale, followed up by, as night fell, the Turkish defense ministry saying that its ground troops have entered now northeastern Syria to the east of the Euphrates River territory held by Syrian Kurds. It is unclear how many Turkish troops have gone in, unclear what their

objectives are or necessarily where they will be moving. But the tweet from this Turkish defense ministry says they were accomplished by something called the Syrian National Army, which is Turkey's nomenclature for Syrian rebels.

We saw some of those at the border, driving up and down the border wall, one of them waving a Syrian rebel flag out the window. These are backed by Turkey and part of Turkey's message here, which is to say that they are taking the land off the Syrian Kurds. that the Syrian Kurds kicked ISIS out and returning it to who Turkey believe are its rightful owners, the Syrian Sunni Arabs who originally lived there before ISIS took hold.

But that is for a longer term discussion. Now the question is, of course, the humanitarian impacts of Turkish shelling and military intervention and exactly the full scope of what Turkey has planned here.

A senior adviser to President Erdogan said the White House was aware of what the full scope was but still we heard Donald Trump today try and trade in both camps saying he thought that the mission was a bad idea but he hadn't endorsed it but also hoping Turkey would remain humanitarian in its aims and take hold of the ISIS prisoners currently in Syrian Kurdish custody.

How that happens in a war zone I simply don't know. But we are now in the opening phase of what could be weeks or months long campaign. It simply depends on how deep into Syrian Kurdish territory president Erdogan wants to send in his forces.

He talks about 18 miles possibly; that could take a very long time along the border of that particular length. But now there are Turkish ground forces with Syrian rebels working alongside them inside of Syria. Casualties on the side of the Syrian Kurds, it seems, continued; airstrikes being used and it's fair to say pretty much remarkable global condemnation from Turkey's NATO allies for this particular move. But still, Ankara pressing on ahead regardless -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Urfa (ph), in southern Turkey.

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VAUSE: Joining us now Barbara Walter, professor of legal SCIUTTO: at the University of California in San Diego.

It's been a while. Thanks for being with us.

BARBARA WALTER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: My pleasure.

VAUSE: As far as Turkey's government is concerned, all Kurdish groups are created equal. This is a spokesperson for the Turkish president.

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GUINUR AYBET, ERDOGAN ADVISER: This is not an operation against Syrian Kurds. The YPG is equal to the PKK, which is a terrorist organization as recognized by the United States and the European Union.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: This is where the story gets complicated because there are lot of different Kurdish groups. But regardless of the individual Kurdish militia or the individual Kurdish political groups that we have.

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VAUSE: When the government spokesperson says that this military operation is not aimed at Syrian Kurds, that just seems to ring hollow.

WALTER: It absolutely is false. There are Kurds who live in Turkey, in Syria, in Iraq, in Iran. They're not cohesive, they're not all working together. I think the Turkish government cares about basically putting down Kurdish separatists in thank you and they are so determined to do that they are willing to basically attack any possible Kurds in neighboring countries as well.

VAUSE: When we hear from Turkey's military, when the operation began, the defense ministry issued a statement, saying the goal is to neutralize the terrorists and terrorist organizations that pose a threat to our national security, Turkey's national security.

Especially the daish, which is ISIS, and PKK, KCK, PYD and YPG, again, all Kurdish groups, essentially bringing the Syrian Kurds who are a U.S. ally in with not just the other Kurds but ISIS as well.

There is a situation with the PKK, based in Turkey, considered a terror group by the United States. Turkey says many of those claims that they sought PR campaign they will be recovery. The YPG, the Syrian Kurds, has won the support of many Western politicians, analysts and journalists who were willing to ignore a strong operational relationship with the PKK and with past abuses in Syria.

OK, would you put the YPG in the same category as the PKK, which, if that's the case, it kind of justifies this military operation in a way.

WALTER: Listen, this is purely a political move by Erdogan. And he has two problems on his hands. One is that he's been fighting the PKK, who are Kurds in his own country who would like to gain independence.

(INAUDIBLE).

And the second he is dealing with is the Turkish economy that's altering and he has a restive population who wants him to do something about this. One of the things he'd like to do about this is to send 2 million Syrian refugees, who are sitting along the border, in Turkey, (INAUDIBLE) he's like to send them back to Syria.

And this military move into Syria helps potentially solve both those problems. (INAUDIBLE) needs to do something to try to move the economy of Turkey and politically this plays well back in his home country.

VAUSE: Barbara, we appreciate you being with us. (INAUDIBLE) problems with your audio but we certainly got most of what you're saying, there's so very much appreciated and for your insight. Thank you for taking the time.

WALTER: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Well, he faces backlash over situation in Syria. The U.S. president is also questioning the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry back home. He is also apparently demanding allegiance and loyalty from Republican senators, lashing out at lawmakers who he considers to be disloyal.

It is either you're with me or against me situation. The president also trying to validate why the White House will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

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TRUMP: Well, we would if they give us our rights. And if they vote and so you cannot have lawyers, can ask questions or have anybody president, all of these crazy things, even some of the reporter said to me, it really is an unfair situation.

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VAUSE: Meanwhile, Democratic rival Joe Biden, the man the president asked Ukraine to investigate, is now saying for the first time that Donald Trump must be impeached.

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JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached. We have to remember that impeachment is not only -- is not only about what the president has done. It's about the threat the president poses to the nation if allowed to remain in office.

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VAUSE: Joining me now, political analyst Michael Genovese and David Katz, former assistant U.S. attorney for Los Angeles.

Now that letter from the White House counsel on Tuesday to Speaker Pelosi which outlined a strategy of total noncooperation, period, no help whatsoever, now comes with an addendum, courtesy of Donald Trump. Here he is.

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TRUMP: If Pelosi holds a vote on the floor on impeachment and commits the rules of previous impeachment proceedings, your participate last investigation?

If the rules are fair. Because I don't know exactly or definition. If Republicans get a fair shake.

VAUSE: So David, we will start with your legal opinion.

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VAUSE: During with the Nixon and Clinton impeachment, the House did allow the president's attorneys to attend on the impeachment related sessions, review evidence, question witnesses, so far Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has not allowed that to happen. She's breaking tradition.

Is she breaking the law?

DAVID KATZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, she's not breaking the law at all. The law is that the House can set the rules for an impeachment proceeding and if there are different rules right after the civil war or back during Watergate or during Clinton, that's because that's what the House wanted to do.

The House was, of course, Republican when it voted to impeach, that is, to charge Clinton. So what's ironic too is that many of the people who are screaming the loudest about how unfair the procedures are in the House were actually House managers of the Clinton impeachment, who are now in the Senate or who are the vice president like Pence and who are urging the removal of Clinton for private sexual conduct.

So there is nothing unfair about the rules. First of, all the trial will be in the Senate but even regarding the charges, the president has a lot of rights even in the House and his rights are being preserved.

Remember, there is about 45 percent Republicans in the House. They are allowed to ask questions. They are allowed access to the witnesses. If they want to call witnesses, there's no reason why some of those witnesses could not be called.

But let's keep our eye on the ball, John, of what is really going on. What is really going on is that President Trump is stonewalling, not allowing anyone to be called. He has not allowed Sunday, who flew all the way over from Brussels and who is his ambassador and who was supposedly willing to testify and offer favorable testimony, although you wonder if that would've really had been what happened.

And he was not allowed to testify by the administration. Before, that McGahn, the former chief of staff, was not allowed to testify, so the stonewalling, the lack of what you would consider due or fair process has been all on Trump's side, not on Pelosi's and not on Adam Schiff's part.

VAUSE: David, you make some very good points there. This is a president who is incredibly skilled at playing up being the victim. So given, that, is the politics here for Democrats take that opportunity away from the president, adopt the same type of procedures as past impeachments, what would be the downside of that? MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think eventually that is what is going to happen but the president is arguing a little bit backwards, in point of fact. If you look back at Watergate, they had a thorough investigation before they brought impeachment.

And so that was the Irvin committee, where you had great television drama where everyday people were glued to the television set watching the testimony of John Dean and of Butterfield and of all the Watergate characters.

You do the investigation first and then you decided about impeachment. The president is arguing that, no, first you have to decide on impeachment and then you do the investigation.

Well you don't do that in criminal cases, why do it here?

And so the president's basic position is, look, those guys shouldn't impeach me because they will not be fair because they don't like me. Well, that is not the case. Certainly the Democrats do not support the president; they will eventually impeach him.

But the process has to go on and the president cannot control this process. If you look at the letter that was submitted by the president's counsel, it is kind of the Swiss cheese letter because it is full of holes.

The court cases they even refer to support Congress investigating and issuing subpoenas. So they do say there are some limits to that but in essence, even the court cases that are cited do not support what the president believes.

VAUSE: The president also has another skill and that is taking a grain of truth, twisting and blowing it up out of all context. Here he is doing just that.

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TRUMP: They heard a whistleblower who came out with a false story -- you know, people say, oh, it's fairly close. It wasn't close at all. What the whistleblower said bore no relationship to what they call was. We have a transcribed call done by professionals and the call was a perfect call.

Then it turns out that the whistleblower is a Democrat, strong Democrat, and is working with one of my opponents as a Democrat that I might end up running against.

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VAUSE: David, that was the president playing the ultimate victim here. The problem is what he said is simply taken out of context. It is simply not true or it's an outright lie.

KATZ: Well, that is one of the problems right here is that he wants to play the victim but the reality is that the transcribed call is what hurt him. It is not what the whistleblower had to say about it, it's what is corroborated, the whistleblower was corroborated by the released transcript of the call. The call itself is what the strong evidence is it shows a quid pro quo by the president.

It shows that he wanted a favor for himself politically and personally in exchange for releasing $400 million in military aid that Ukraine desperately needed to fend off Russian aggression.

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KATZ: And the money was never released until it was known in September that there was a whistleblower out there and the transcript was never released until it was known that there was going to be a transcription -- excuse, me -- that there was going to be a whistleblower complaint about it.

Now we have a second whistleblower. Remember the last, week defense was that it was hearsay?

Well, we don't need the hearsay because we have the transcript but now there is actually a second whistleblower who heard the actual call on top of that, 10 other people heard it, it was put on a super secret server where it did not belong, which was for covert operations.

Why was it hidden?

If it was not embarrassing to the president, why was it hidden?

It has also come up from the whistleblower that other things were hidden on there.

Was there a call with Turkey on there, trading a Trump Tower Istanbul for withdrawing the support now that has just happened?

Was there a quid pro quo with Putin and the Russians?

Well, that is also on the super server and that is why it does make sense for Congress to go down this road and try to get those documents. Not just impeach now but to actually try, at least for a few, weeks maybe for a couple of, months to really press the investigations, to really get what they have, to ask for expedited review by the courts if that's what's needed, not get into a Mueller situation, John, where they just let the thing get so old and stale in people's minds but move with dispatch, move with alacrity but find out the many more things they can find, out get this ambassador who was trashed and brought home from urn because she would not play ball with Giuliani, get this longtime adviser to Trump, get her before the Congress. Keep the momentum going, there is some more evidence that should be plumbed.

VAUSE: It does seem to be the strategy the Democrats are using but in Trump world, the bizarre world of Donald Trump, the strategy of stonewalling essentially taking things out of context is working. Here's one of his latest tweets.

"Only 25 percent want the president impeached, which is pretty low considering the volume of fake news coverage but pretty high considering the fact that I did nothing. Wrong. It is all just a continuation," witch hunt, blah, blah, blah.

But in the real world, opinion polls are showing support for impeachment. It is going in one direction and that is up. Even opinion polls over at FOX News.

Here's the question they asked, do you think President Trump should be impeached and removed from office?

51 percent said yes and this is FOX News, so, Michael, even though the 25 percent number that the president is quoting is not correct, it is not a good sign when you are boasting that only a quarter of the country wants you to stand trial for high crimes and misdemeanors and be removed from office.

GENOVESE: Yes, but Donald Trump controls, number, one the bully pulpit and number two, the bully Twitter account and he has a masterful ability to control events, to control discussion and to control circumstances surrounding discussion.

And so while his comment about 25 percent is absurd, people are talking about it. We are talking about it. The president sets the agenda and he sets the confines of our discussion.

And the fact that what he says is often not true or made up or something that is made to puff himself up, that is what we talk about because that is what he delivers.

The bully pulpit is an incredibly effective tool in the hands of someone who is as effective at communicating as Donald Trump. Give him credit. He is able to dominate the public space and in spite of the fact that we call him out on these things, he gets the first word and he gets the last word.

VAUSE: Again, the last word for, us, we go to Joe, Biden, the vice president and Democratic candidate, on why he believes this president should be impeached.

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JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He believes he can and will get away with anything he does. We all laughed when he said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it.

It's no joke. He's shooting holes in the Constitution and we cannot let him get away with it.

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VAUSE: So very quickly but I want to come back to Michael. But David,, first, this inquiry, it seems like more like Trump versus the Constitution as opposed to Trump versus Democrats.

KATZ: Trump is shooting holes in the Constitution, I think it is clear now that whether it is sooner or a little bit later, the House will vote to impeach, him to charge with many articles. And then there will be a trial in the Senate and I think that will call into question what the Senate really sees itself as.

Do they want to be laughed at?

Do they want to be like legislatures in a lot of the world where they have great power on paper but they just kowtow to autocrats and do not inquire into what the government is doing?

Do they want to be that kind of Senate?

And I think a combination of their own institutional pride and also the fall in the polls and a majority even on FOX polls saying that they want the president removed, I think is going to move the senators. They're not going to give up their six-year terms so they can go down with Trump.

Why should they?

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VAUSE: Very quickly, Michael, when do you think there will be any movement among Republican lawmakers?

Because we're seeing movement among Republican voters.

GENOVESE: There already is some movement visible and it was on what you led with, Turkey invading forces in Syria there, fighting the Kurds. So you are seeing some holes being punched in Trump, holes that he invited.

And so some Republicans getting pretty disgusted with him on national security grounds.

The question is, will the voters push those Republicans in relatively safe or swing districts to go against the president?

It does not seem likely right, now but this is a very movable -- the public is very movable on this. The more it is revealed, the further you go into the process, the more people start to listen, pay attention and that is when the president is really in difficult times.

VAUSE: OK, so, Michael and, David thank you both. Appreciate you being with us.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

KATZ: Good being here.

VAUSE: Well, for the first time in the 32-year history of the Rugby World Cup organizers are canceling two major matches because of expected bad weather. This is not just your average storm, it's a powerful supertyphoon approaching Japan, meaning the matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy have been scrapped.

Organizers say the games will not be rescheduled and 2 points will be awarded each team in line with tournament rules and now they are trying to scramble to get Sunday's matches played as planned. A lot more on this story later this hour with "WORLD SPORT's" Alex Thomas.

We will take a short break in the meantime. A gunman goes on a shooting rampage in Germany. An apparent anti-Semitic attack on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. Back in a moment.

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VAUSE: In Germany, a 27-year-old man has been arrested suspected of the anti-Semitic attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The gunman killed two people near a synagogue and a kebab shop in Halle. He apparently streamed the attack online with a camera mounted to a helmet.

In the 35-minute video he claims the Holocaust never happened and Jews are the cause of most of the world's problems. Details now from CNN 's Melissa Bell.

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MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candles have been left outside of the kebab shop here in Halle, part of where this tragedy unfolded here today after a gunman made his way from a synagogue just up the road where people were gathered to celebrate Yom Kippur.

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BELL: Killing a woman outside the synagogue after failing to get in before making his way down the road and killing a man here at this kebab shop. Even now evidence of the violence that took place here today in the last few minutes, the police have finished up their investigative work at the end of a long day of trying to cobbling together getting the pieces of the puzzle together to work out exactly very quickly an attack clearly linked to anti-Semitism with suspicions, we're told by officials, on a motive based on rightwing extremism.

Tonight Angela Merkel was in Berlin at a ceremony at the synagogue, a vigil to mark what happened here in Halle today, two people dead at the end of this tragedy and a town profoundly shaken by the events -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Halle.

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VAUSE: Chances of the British prime minister securing a Brexit deal during the upcoming E.U. summit are now looking extremely low. The sticking point remains how to avoid a hard border between E.U. member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland in a post-Brexit world.

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MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. BREXIT NEGOTIATOR (through translator): To put things simply and frankly, with objectiveness, at the time I am speaking, we're not in a position to be able to find an agreement with Britain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Boris Johnson will meet his Irish counterpart on Thursday. Leo Varadkar says the U.K. position on Northern Ireland leaves the E.U. customs union -- is causing huge difficulties. By law Johnson must ask for an extension if he does not secure a deal by October 19th.

U.S. trade talks with China set to resume on Thursday. Two officials say the U.S. negotiators are going into this 13th round of talks with very low expectation. The minister level meeting comes after the Trump administration blacklisted more than 2 dozen Chinese businesses and put visa restrictions on Chinese officials for human rights abuses.

Tariffs on $25 billion of Chinese goods are set to go up to 30 percent on Tuesday.

We'll take a short break, when we come back a closer look at the situation with Syrian Kurds now in the firing line of Turkey's military. But this is not the first time they have been betrayed by the United States, they say. We'll explain, next on CNN NEWSROOM.

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VAUSE: Thank you for staying with, us everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Here are the headlines this hour.

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When Donald Trump announced U.S. troops were withdrawing from northern Syria, he effectively gave Turkey the green light for this military offensive, which is primarily aimed at the Kurds, a vital U.S. ally which did most of the heavy lifting in the fight against ISIS.

But as CNN's Arwa Damon reports, this is not the first time Kurds have been abandoned by the United States.

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ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): History has often been unkind to the Kurds, a cycle of repeated betrayals. When the U.S.-led coalition expelled Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait in 1991, then-President H.W. [SIC] Bush encouraged the Iraqi people to oust the dictator altogether.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's another way for the bloodshed to stop. And that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.

DAMON: In response, Iraq's Kurds rose up against Saddam, but when his elite forces advanced north, the Kurds got no help. Millions fled to the mountains, and many others were slaughtered trying to resist.

During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Kurds were again enthusiastic allies, assisting American and British forces in their drive to Baghdad.

When ISIS swept through Iraq, Kurdish resistance was crucial in keeping the militants at bay.

In Syria, the U.S. turned to the Kurds there, the YPG, as key allies, the main ground force that led the liberation of Raqqah, ISIS's headquarters.

But in both Iraq and Syria, the Kurds have been allies of convenience, deserted when no longer needed in the geopolitical chessboard. Last year, the U.S. stood by while the Iraqi military drove the Kurds back from territory they held during the fight against ISIS.

MASOUD BARZANI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAQI KURDISTAN (through translator): We thought that the people who were verbally telling us they were our friends and would support us, that they would have supported us; or if not, stay silent.

DAMON: Now it's Syria's Kurds that face attack by Turkish forces as U.S. troops pull back. Turkey sees the Kurds as terrorists, allied to the insurgents in its own Kurdish areas.

The modest U.S. presence has deterred a Turkish incursion and held the Syrian regime at bay. But President Trump has repeatedly threatened to pull U.S. forces out of Syria.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon we're coming out.

DAMON: Again, in December last year, he announced U.S. forces were withdrawing, tweeting --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency."

DAMON: On both occasions, advisers persuaded the president to change course. But now, he has given Turkey the green light to cross the border, in a move that stunned even his closest allies at home.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If he follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency.

DAMON: The Kurds themselves are separating the president from the people. The spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mustafa Bali, tweeting -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Despite the president's decision to pave the way

for Turkish invasion, American people are true friends of the SDF."

DAMON: The Kurds have made it clear they'll divert forces currently guarding ISIS prisoners to the front lines, with possibly dangerous consequences. Unsure of what their ally intends, they will, as they have done so often, fight for their very existence.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.

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VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, two major Rugby World Cup matches have been called off as Typhoon Hagibis approaches Japan. Details on that and a live report in just a minute.

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VAUSE: It's never happened before. Two big matches of the Rugby World Cup have been canceled due to potentially dangerous weather. Super Typhoon Hagibis is approaching landfall in Japan. That's where the tournament's being held. And officials say they're worried about public safety, so they scrapped Saturday's matches between England and France and also between New Zealand and Italy.

Officials say they're making efforts to ensure Sunday's matches go ahead as planned, but they will really evaluate once the storm has passed.

CNN WORLD SPORT anchor Alex Thomas life in Tokyo.

OK, let me play disappointed rugby fan ticket holder here, just for a moment. Seriously, dude, there's no other option than this? Couldn't they play away from the storm? They've got planes, don't they?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: That's true. They could've taken the option to try and relocate the games. But it's already a six-week tournament, lasting -- starting back in September the 20th, not finishing until November the 1st; and they've got to get the quarterfinals on the way, get through the semifinals, third-place play-off and final. There's a schedule to keep.

And the bottom line is that you -- this massive infrastructure involved around these Rugby World Cup games is like an Olympic Games or a FIFA World Cup. Organizers have admitted the fans are going to be disappointed but say they hope they'll understand. They've had to put their safety first.

This super typhoon is the strongest of the typhoon season here in Japan. Winds gusting up to 195 miles an hour. That's 315 kilometers per hour. Transports being shut down. The public are being urged to stay indoors.

And that's why Alan Gilpin, when he faced the media earlier -- he's a chief organizer for Rugby World Cup Limited -- explains that they had to put the safety of the fans first. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN GILPIN, CHIEF ORGANIZER, RUGBY WORLD CUP LTD.: As you can imagine, the decision to cancel these matches has not been taken lightly and has been made with the best interests of team, public, tournament and volunteer safety as a priority, based on the expert advice and the detailed information we have available.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: Now the lucky thing for the organizers, John, is that most of the scenarios in the fall pools -- there's 20 nations competing, split into four groups of five teams. The top two all qualify for the quarterfinals, the last eight. And most groups are settled. It just may be a case of who's going to finish first or second. That was the case with England-France game; it's one of the ones being canceled.

Interestingly, of the three Saturday games, the one that is going ahead is Ireland against Samoa. That's taking place in Fukuoka, which is the far southwestern tip of Japan, so it's out of the path of the super typhoon. And that will affect Pool A, which has got the host nation, Japan, in it, which has been the story of this Rugby World Cup, a Tier-2 team beating Ireland earlier in the tournament and with a real chance of qualifying for the quarter finals for the first time in their history.

The last pool game of all of them is late Sunday night in Yokohama. That's only an hour's drive from here in Tokyo, in the path of the storm. That is going ahead for now, but if it gets scrapped, both teams will get two points. It means Scotland will be out. Japan will progress as group winners, which means a rematch against South Africa in the quarterfinals, the Springboks they beat four years ago at the Rugby World Cup in England -- John.

VAUSE: It all sounds very complicated. We're out of time. But my comment is this: surely, they packed the schedule. It seems way too tight. They should have had allowance for this. Typhoons and Japan go together like peanut butter and jelly.

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Alex, next hour we'll talk to you. Thank you.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is with us now. OK, so this obviously is a very big, powerful super typhoon.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.

VAUSE: And there is an element of danger here, so you know, in one way they are doing the right thing.

JAVAHERI: Yes, absolutely. You do sound like you're a disgruntled ticket holder.

VAUSE: People come thousands of miles for this. You know, it's a big event. It happens every four years. And they decide to cancel it? JAVAHERI: Here's what I'll tell you. The waves ahead of this storm -- I just checked just a few moments ago -- are at 62 feet. That is about 18 meters high. If you can imagine.

VAUSE: That's pretty darn high.

JAVAHERI: A six-building is how high the waves are ahead of this storm. So it's a very menacing storm system, and we're going to break down exactly what's in store here, because it is very quickly on approach towards areas of Japan.

And of course, you take a look, and it's actually a compact storm system, so very organized, very symmetrical; 260 kilometer-per-hour winds, gusting over 315 kilometers per hour. Recall Super Typhoon Haiyan. Winds with that storm were sustained at that number, 315.

But of course, this storm system is much -- going to weaken much more significantly inside the next couple of days on approach. The forecast models have kind of held firmly to the forecast of the storm weakening rather rapidly.

And you take a look, we've had quite a bit of activity here since the 1st of July. In fact, most recently, about a month ago, we had Typhoon Faxai move just east of Tokyo. That storm system left with billions of dollars in losses that are estimated across Tokyo in particular, seven billion to be precise.

Compare that to a hurricane in the United States that impacted the eastern U.S. a couple of years ago, Matthew. Comparable amount of losses.

So again, when you're talking about a city as large and as populated as Tokyo, impacts from a tropical system could be very serious. And of course, with Hagibis, that has already garnered quite a bit of attention.

One-hundred-sixty-kilometer-per-hour increase in intensity in a 24- hour period. No tropical system in the past 23 years across the Western Pacific has been able to attain that sort of wind speed increase in a 24-hour period.

But forecast models once again seeing this diminish to 230 kilometers per hour by this time tomorrow. On approach, Friday evening, we think down to 195. Landfall, sometime around 6 to 7 p.m. local time, potentially just south of Tokyo on Saturday evening. At that point, winds potentially down to 150 kilometers per hour. So it goes from a Category 5 to a Category 2 equivalent on approach and potentially at landfall. Still a formidable feature but again, significantly weaker.

And here is the projected path. Look how close it gets to Tokyo, potentially skirting just east of town. And rainfall really going to be the big story with this if the winds, as are forecast, continue to diminish.

So you take a look, only about five storms in recorded history have come within 50 nautical miles of Tokyo. Faxai about a month ago and now Hagibis might be doing very much the same thing.

And John kind of referenced what is happening there with, of course, a very large World Cup -- World Cup event there taking place for the Rugby World Cup. And of course, you see a storm of this magnitude with so many people, potentially, not just inside the stadium, John, but potentially outside the stadium. You've got road closures, you've got flooded roadways, it's just not worth the risk.

VAUSE: Yes. And it is the biggest storm of the year, I guess. We've got some very powerful wind. Still, there's going to be a lot of disappointed people.

JAVAHERI: I'm sure.

VAUSE: OK, Pedram. Thank you. Appreciate the update.

Also, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after the break.

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