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Up to 900 ISIS Fighters Killed in Mosul Offensive; U.N., UNICEF Condemn Deadly Idlib Attack in Syria; Venezuelan Protesters, Police Clash for Second Day; Humanitarian Crisis is War-Torn Yemen; Michelle Obama Campaigns with Hillary Clinton; Inside the Secret Extensive ISIS Tunnel System; 200 Fans Face Ban After West Ham/Chelsea Violence; Trump May Be Walking about Lawsuit Threats against Women; Slab Thought to be Part of Christ's Tomb Uncovered. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 28, 2016 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:22] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour --


SESAY: Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We're now into the third hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

The U.S. coalition forces in Iraq have killed up to 900 ISIS fighters in the offensive to retake Mosul. They are gaining significant ground and liberating villages along the way.




SESAY: Listen to those cheers as Kurdish fighters freed the northern Iraq city of Fadalia (ph). Some celebrated by passing around cigarettes. Under ISIS, they could have been publicly whipped for that.

A Peshmerga captain says the operation went smoothly.


UNIDENTIFIED PESHMERGA CAPTAIN (through translation): We liberated this village in a short period of time. Thank god, no Peshmerga were harmed. We liberated the whole village of Fadalia (ph). The residents are happy and welcoming the Peshmerga with joy. We have been victorious over Daesh. God willing, no Daesh will remain this country. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Michael Holmes is in Irbil, Iraq, and joins us now live with more.

Michael, what's the state of progress on the battlefield right now?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Iraqi and Peshmerga forces, Isha, are continuing to press toward Mosul. Some are within -- one Iraqi counterintelligence unit is within sight of the city. The Peshmerga unit to the north, about four kilometers out. What they are trying to do is bring up the units to within the same distance of Mosul so they are in position to make a coordinated entry when that time comes. They are not going to be in a hurry to do it because of the precarious situation for civilians inside of Mosul. There's some units that are, for example, surrounding a town 15 kilometers south of Mosul near the Tigris River. We were near Bashiqa yesterday that is getting pounded. A couple of 500-pound bombs dropped on that, artillery fire coming in, and that's two kilometers outside of Mosul. Progress needs to be made by Iraqi and Peshmerga forces to get up close to the city, clear those towns and villages to the south and east, some to the north, as well, so they are in a uniform position around Mosul. But it is still, according to Iraqi and Kurdish and, for that matter, U.S. officials, going ahead of schedule -- Isha?

SESAY: Let's talk about ISIS resistance. Up to 900 ISIS fighters have been killed. What are we learning about the state of the terror group and who's in and around Mosul?

HOLMES: It is interesting. We are getting more snippets out of Mosul about the preparations that ISIS is making inside. For a start, we are hearing some of the villages closest to Mosul, ISIS is rounding up civilians and bringing them in to Mosul so join other civilians in there. We know there are up to 1.5 million civilians inside of Mosul, which makes any assault on the city a dangerous affair.

We're hearing of a network of tunnels inside the city from moving ISIS fighters around, and perhaps for ISIS leadership and fighters to escape when things get too hot. We know about the suicide squads that have come in. We know about truck and car bombs prepositioned. We have heard of a neighborhood in the east of the city, an entire neighborhood that locals say has been booby trapped to stop any advance from there.

We mentioned a couple of days ago, you'll remember, Isha, a local resistance movement that took on ISIS in one small neighborhood in Mosul. Killed five ISIS fighters and the resistance group escaped across the closely-packed rooftops in the neighborhood. We are now getting word that 600 civilians have been rounded up by ISIS as retaliation for that attack from within. Up to 50 people have been summarily executed, some in front of their own homes. A terrifying situation for those civilians in Mosul. It makes the assault by Iraqi forces and police, when it does come, that much more difficult. ISIS doesn't care about civilians but the Iraqi military and police will have to -- Isha?

[02:05:34] SESAY: Terrifying, indeed.

Michael Holmes there in Irbil, Iraq. Take care, my friend. Thanks.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is appalled at repeated attacks on a school compound in northern Syria. A bombing on Wednesday in Idlib killed at least 20 children.

VAUSE: UNICEF's secretary-general took it a stop further. He said, in part, "This is a tragedy and outrage and, if deliberate, it is a war crime."

The latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.

Here's Ivan Watson.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rescue worker and activists are describing a horrific bombardment of an opposition- controlled village in northern Syria near the rebel-held city of Idlib. And video shows what appears to be an explosive device floating down over the village, hanging from a parachute, and detonating with a terrible mushroom cloud.

Members of the White Helmet rescue workers say at least 35 people were killed in this series of air strikes, which hit a school. Among those killed, at least 20 children. Some of the video from the scene shows children's' backpacks next to the demolished shell of the school building.

This isn't the first time we've seen atrocities like this committed in Syria throughout this five-year civil war. In fact, a top United Nations official, he testified in front of the United Nations Security Council this week, and he basically denounced both Syrian rebel groups, as well as the Syrian government and its Russian allies for a breakdown in negotiations over the course of the last week for the evacuation of some of the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged eastern rebel-held Aleppo. Take a listen.


STEPHEN O'BRIEN, UNITED NATIONS UNDER-GENERAL-SECRETARY FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS & EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: The offensive has been the most sustained and intensive aerial bombardment campaign witnessed since the beginning of the conflict more than half a decade ago. The results in human terms have been horrific. Aleppo has essentially become a kill zone. I cannot help but be incandescent with rage. Month after month, worse and worse, and nothing is actually happening to stop the war, stop the suffering.


WATSON: Stephen O'Brien said that air strikes had killed at least 400 people in a month in rebel-held east Aleppo, and that rebel mortar attacks had killed perhaps 100 additional civilians on the Syrian government-controlled side of the front lines.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.


SESAY: The U.S., France and international forces say Syria or Russia are behind the attack. Russia denies responsibility.

VAUSE: President Vladimir Putin is blaming the U.S. president for not reaching a ceasefire in Syria, saying the Americans are shooting themselves in the foot. Mr. Putin also said that Russia is holding back in Syria for now.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): if there's an agreement, it should be observed. Or in any case, don't blame or accuse us of all mortal sins. This is simply indecent. For now, we exercise restraint and don't respond to our partners in such a rude way but everything has its limits. We may respond.


VAUSE: In Venezuela, protesters clashed with police for a second day. The opposition blames President Nicolas Maduro for the country's brutal economic crisis.

SESAY: Most people can't find food or can't afford it because inflation is extremely high.

Our Shasta Darlington has more.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day after Venezuelans flooded the streets to protest their government, President Nicolas Maduro had announced a 40 percent increase in minimum wage and a 20 percent wage hike for public servants, including the armed forces. It's the fourth wage hike this year and, no doubt, will temper some of the anger and frustration that sparked the massive demonstrations on Wednesday, and images like this one, a man shouting at riot police, "Go ahead and shoot me. I'm just hungry."

Some of the protests turned violent. The defense ministry addressed that on Thursday.

[02:09:57] VLADIMIR PADRINO LOPEZ, VENEZUELAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translation): Other serious things also happened. The killing of a police officer and other things, the burning of tires, streets on fire, police cars lit on fire and attacks against National Guard troops.

DARLINGTON: The opposition had been trying to organize a recall referendum that could have seen Maduro voted out of office. But last week, his government blocked the efforts to organize that referendum and now the opposition says it will march on the presidential palace next week unless the government reverses its decision.

The opposition has also called for a general strike on Friday, but Maduro's announcement of an increase in wages could temper support.

The opposition has also finally agreed to sit down with the government on Sunday in a national dialogue. The Vatican is going to mediate those talks, but at this point, there's little hope it will come up with a solution to solve this standoff.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.


VAUSE: Now to Yemen and the civil war that began last year when Houthi rebels overthrew the government. Since then, ore than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed, most of them civilians. The U.N. says more than three million have been forced from their homes.

SESAY: Roughly half of the population doesn't have enough to eat, including hundreds of thousands of children. They could suffer severe malnutrition. And the World Food Program says it needs more assistance to keep millions from starving to death.

Abeer Etefa joins us from Cairo, Egypt, with the spokesperson for the World Food Program. She was in Yemen and saw how dire the situation is there.

Thank you for being with us.

An estimated 14.4 million people in Yemen are considered food insecure. The pictures out of the country in recent days are shocking. Explain what day-to-day existence is like for many people there right now.

ABEER ETEFA, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAM (voice- over): I just returned to Yemen and visited a number of -- over a period of ten days. What we have seen was heartbreaking. We have been to so many family homes and they are surviving on dried pieces of bread, and a family of nine, maybe one cup of cooked rice if they are lucky. Families are prioritizing the children but there's too little for everyone to eat that we are seeing is increased rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. Many mothers at nutrition centers and hospitals, who have traveled from far and beyond, borrowing money from neighbors so they can bring their malnourished children to receive treatment. We just worry about the many in remote and mountainous areas that cannot make the journey. It is a dire situation.

SESAY: Abeer, as people hear the numbers and see the pictures, the question that arises is, why hasn't the World Food Program declared this is a famine?

ETEFA: There's a systemic way of declaring a famine. We have Integrated Food Security Classification System where we monitor everywhere in the country. Right now as we speak there are nine governments in Yemen which are classified at the Emergency Food Level. That is one step below famine. There are certain criteria for declaring, including child mortality, in addition to the percentage of food insecurity among the people. At this point, we are trying all our best with the program, NGOs, other U.N. agencies, UNICEF, everyone is trying their best so we don't reach this stage.

SESAY: How much is World Food Program able to do at this point in time?

ETEFA: WFP has provided food for three million people every month. However, in recent months, we had to split food rations to six million people as needs are increasing and portions are diminishing. It is very difficult to fund this operation because the resources are not going as the needs are. We need help to stabilize the situation. The conflicts in Yemen, persistent ties to security and hunger, that many families do not know where their next meal is coming from. The World Food Program needs $250 million to provide much-need food assistance until March.

SESAY: Any sign that money is forthcoming?

ETEFA: Well, we hope that the focus and highlight is on Yemen for the last few days. We hope this will trigger more support and resources. And we acknowledge that some donors have given to the World Food Program like the government of Germany, United States, Japan, Canada, but we look for more that will provide life-saving food assistance.

[02:15:10] SESAY: It's critical. The pictures are truly shocking.

Abeer Etefa, we appreciate you joining us to give us a sense of how bleak the situation is on the ground in Yemen. We wish you the best with your efforts with WFP.

ETEFA: Thank you.

VAUSE: We will take a short break. When we come back, the race for the White House. New stolen e-mail released by WikiLeaks painting a not-so-flattering picture of former President Clinton.

SESAY: Plus, police move to shut down a Native American protest against an oil pipeline. Details when CNN NEWSROOM comes back.




SESAY: A plane carrying Mike Pence skidded off the runway in New York. No one was hurt. Reporters onboard say they could feel the plane fishtail as it touched down in the rainy weather.

VAUSE: Donald Trump called his running mate before a rally in Ohio. Pence is expected to resume campaigning on Friday in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. SESAY: Hillary Clinton is hoping First Lady Michelle Obama can help

her seal the deal with voters as Election Day draws closer.

[02:20:05] VAUSE: Some are calling her the first lady the "closer," after her joint appearance with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.

Here's Jeff Zeleny.



JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michelle Obama is making the case again for Hillary Clinton but, tonight, she's making it with her.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Yeah, that's right. Hillary doesn't play.


OBAMA: She has more experience and exposure to the presidency than any candidate in our lifetime. Yes, more than Barack, more than Bill. She's absolutely ready to be commander-in-chief on day one. And yes, she happens to be a woman.


ZELENY: For the first time first lady, and former one, on stage together, rallying Democrats in North Carolina.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Seriously, is there anyone more inspiring than Michelle Obama?


ZELENY: A first lady tag team going hard after Donald Trump in a race divided by deep gender lines.

OBAMA: We want a president who honors and values women --


OBAMA: -- who teaches our daughters and our sons that women are full and equal human beings, worthy, deserving of love and respect.


OBAMA: We want a president who takes this job seriously and has the temperament and maturity to do it well.