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U.S. Confirms Strikes On 85 Targets In Iraq & Syria; U.N.: Thousands Flee Fighting In Khan Younis For Rafah; South Carolina's Democratic Primary Takes Place Today; Judge: Trump's 2020 Election Interference Trail On Hold. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 03, 2024 - 03:00   ET



NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers watching in the United States and all around the world.

I'm Nick Watt, live from Los Angeles.


The U.S. unleashes dozens of strikes on Iranian-backed targets in the Middle East and promises more in response bonds to the deaths of three American soldiers.

Plus, thousands flee northern Gaza, creating what the U.N. describes as a humanitarian pressure cooker in the south.

And polls are set to open in South Carolinas Democratic primary race where the U.S. president is looking for a big win.


WATT: U.S. President Joe Biden is serving notice to Iran-backed militias retaliatory strikes in the Middle East. He says will, quote, continue at the times and places of our choosing. The U.S. says it hit 85 targets in Iraq and Syria earlier Saturday after a drone strike killed three Americans in Jordan earlier this week.

The U.S. Central Command released this video of American B1 bombers taking off from the U.S. They flew straight to the Middle East.


WATT: Iraq says this video shows the aftermath of one of the strikes. CNN has not confirmed that.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says, this is the start of our response. In the statement, he also said: We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else. But the president and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces. We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our forces and our interests.

An Iraqi military spokesman says the attacks violated Iraq's sovereignty. The White House says Iraq was notified ahead of time.

Meanwhile, serious military says the strikes caused significant damage and killed civilians and soldiers.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us live with more on the strikes and the reaction.

Jomana, what else are we hearing from Iran, any other regional players?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nick, in the past hour or so, we've heard from the Syrian ministry of defense through the Syrian state media releasing a statement saying that U.S. strikes caused significant damage. As you mentioned, and that there were casualties in that statement, they say, quote, that this was a blatant air aggression against a number of sites and towns in eastern Syria and near the border with Iraq. And that it led to, quote, the martyrdom of a number of civilians and soldiers jurors, the injury of others and the infliction of significant damage to public and private property.

Now, we do know from the Syrians that the -- a number of provinces and towns along the border with Iraq and in eastern Syria were struck, in Mayadeen, Deir Ezzor, and Abu Kamal. We haven't yet seen pictures that show this significant damage during daylight hours. We haven't seen yet pictures of casualties as we are hearing these reports coming from the Syrian regime.

But keep in mind that we heard from us officials saying that they chose those targets the sites where there were personnel, that there were likely casualties as a result of these strikes.

But we also heard from us officials saying that a lot of planning went into this to try and avoid civilian casualties in the coming hours. Of course, we would expect to hear from the U.S. military on its battle damage assessment and what they say has been hit as a result of the strikes.

We would also wait to hear from Iraqis. As you mentioned, we did hear from an Iraq key military spokesman late last night, shortly after these strikes took place, calling this a violation of Iraq's sovereignty. But we will have to wait and see what sort of damage and the results of these strikes and whether there were casualties as well in Iraq, we know that the western Iraq desert region, Al-Qa'im, close to the border with Syria, that is where these targets were struck.


And we also have to wait in hear from Iran as well as the region begins to wake up right now, because significantly the U.S. in its statement did say that not only did they target the Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria, they do say that those targets included Iran's Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds force. But as we know very well, Nick, the U.S. has made very clear that these strikes are coming.

So the Iranians, as well as everyone else, was expecting this to happen and we've had reports in recent days that Iranian -- the Iranians had moved assets, personnel out of sites in Iraq and Syria. So the expectation is, and will still have to wait and see that there was no high value personnel commanders from the Iranian side present at these sites. But well still have to wait and see.

WATT: Jomana Karadsheh joining us from London. Thanks very much.

Now, joining us now is Sanam Vakil, the director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.

So can we just talk about potential Iranian responses here? I mean, we heard from Iran earlier in the week that, you know, they don't want war, but they're going to react to someone tries to bully them. What do you expect? We might hear from Iran, see from Iran in the days ahead?

SANAM VAKIL, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, much depends on casualties on the ground if IRGC commander, Quds force commander was indeed taken out by these strikes. We do also know that the U.S. has put on a new wave of sanctions on the Islamic republic, and their network across the Middle East. And supposedly there have been reports of a cyber attack on Iran.

So Iran, should it choose to respond and it's important to know that they have been consistently messaging that they are not seeking a broader escalation. Could choose to pursue the cyber route in a response, and that might also be a climb down off of the escalation ladder.

WATT: And could you talk us through the relationship between Tehran and these militias in Syria, Iraq, Yemen? I mean, how much actual control does Tehran have over them? I mean, of course in 2020, the Americans assassinated General Soleimani, who was really one of the go-betweens. I mean, do these militia groups operate, you know, on their own volition or do they really do exactly what Tehran tells them?

VAKIL: Well, the truth is always somewhere in the middle. Iran certainly has been the convener of these groups that has nurtured the relationships. It has invested in individuals, built up their capacity, transferred technology, drones, missile capability to these groups, help them build their capabilities. And over the years, and particularly since Soleimani's death in 2020, Iran has sort of decentralized leadership control over these groups.

It wants to take the onus of responsibility off of Tehran. And it has empowered key commanders across the region, also, Hezbollah plays a very important role in managing and coordinating among these groups. So sometimes, of course, Iran presses go or map I suggest that the escalation is good for the axis of resistance or to protect Hamas or distract Israel or pressure the United States.

But sometimes Iran, and we've seen this in the past, has said, restraint is good for Tehran, and these groups also operate on their own volition and within their own domestic contexts. So this is why this is such a tricky situation, but clearly one that Iran is behind and should bear responsibility for -- I mean, Iran is gold in the region, our goals are to get rid of the Americans completely and to be the regional the regional power, right?

VAKIL: It certainly number one goal is to protect the Islamic Republic's stability and security. And the way it has done so is to use this axis of resistance as a tool of deterrence. This isn't perfectly worked because obviously Iran is always on the brink of tensions and terrorist groups around the region have also struck Iran, including ISIS on January 3rd of this year. But beyond that, Iran sees the United States in the region and Israel as a proxy of the United States as destabilizing.


So to protect its interests and to protect what it sees as its role in managing regional stability, Iran takes this very contentious role that is destabilizing across the region.

WATT: Sanam Vakil joining us from London, thank you very much for your perspectives.

The U.S. deployed B1 bombers to attack Iraq and Syria, calling it a success. We'll talk about the military's capabilities after the break.

One of former U.S. President Donald Trump's upcoming trials is now on hold. The reason a federal judge has granting the delay. That's next.



WATT: On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden attended the dignified transfer of the three American soldiers killed in the drone attack in Jordan. The remains of Sergeants William Rivers, Kennedy Sanders, and Breonna Moffett were carefully carried off a military plane in Delaware. President Biden, along with First Lady Jill Biden, met with their families. Presidents don't always attend the solemn ritual, but this is Biden's second as commander in chief.

The dignified transfer happened on the same day that the U.S. retaliated for that drone attack in Jordan, hitting 85 targets linked to Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.

The Syrian military says the U.S. airstrikes have caused significant damage and killed civilians and military personnel in the eastern region of Syria and near the Syrian Iraqi border. CNN cannot independently verify the number or nature of the casualties.

The U.S. warned that this is only the beginning of its response.

Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann has more details.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. carrying out strikes at seven locations across Iraq and Syria, more precisely four in Syria, three in Iraq, targeting 85 different targets and using more than 125 precision guided weapons. That is an order of magnitude more powerful than the strikes we've seen the U.S. carried out in Iraq and Syria over the course of the past several months. It's also worth noting, this is the first time we have seen the U.S. strike Iraq and Syria simultaneously.

Meanwhile, in a briefing following these strikes, the White House and DOD say from what they have initially know of the strikes, they were successful at hitting the targets they were going for and that included a long list of facilities used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Quds Force, and associated militias here.

Command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, weapons storage facilities -- you can really see in this targets that the U.S. going after the types of weapons used to target U.S. forces in the region, and all of logistics, and essentially command and control needed to carry out those sorts of attacks.

The U.S. had made it clear it wasn't trying to start a war with Iran here, and very much trying to avoid that possibility. So no strikes in Iran directly, but very much going after Iran's proxies in a region -- in the region, and the ability of the proxies to carry out these ongoing attacks on U.S. forces. Worth noting that these strikes, of course, come five days after a drone attack in the region killed three U.S. service members in Jordan and wounded scores more.

But it's not just that. There have been more than 160 attacks on U.S. forces in the region. And this was effectively a more powerful response to all of that. And yet there is no expectation that this is the end of it, because President Joe Biden saying there could very well be more to come and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin being even more blunt about this in a statement afterwards saying this is the start of our response.

The key question here, of course, what does the rest of that response look like? And where does it play out?

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.


WATT: Let's now take a look at the equipment used by the U.S. to conduct these strikes. That includes Air Force B1 bombers, a defense official told CNN. It's a long-range heavy bomber that can deploy precision and non-precision weapons, and it can hold 24 cruise missiles. The U.S. says the B1 bombers that flew from the U.S. made it in one nonstop flight.

Joining us now is Mick Ryan, a retired major general in the Australian army.

Now, talk to us about this B1. I mean, was this used for military reasons, for symbolic reasons, or perhaps both?

MAJOR GEN. MICK RYAN, AUSTRALIAN ARMY (RET.): The use of the B1 comes from the end of its use seen in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades. At the end of the day, the B1 is a good platform to carry a whole lot of munitions. And when you're doing these planings, it's the munitions that are used at the most important consideration. So, it can carry a lot of them. It means less aircraft that place at risk.

WATT: And in terms of symbolism, this is saying to Iran, we can fly from Texas, we can fly to Syria, so we can fly to Iran. Should we need to?

RYAN: Yes, certainly, it's sending that kind of message. It's sending a message to the proxies to knock it off, to try and conduct these strikes, to de-escalate the situation, but also to the respond to the deaths of these three U.S. Army sergeant six days ago to say, if you're going to kill our people, there is a large price.

WATT: And in terms of the impact of these strikes -- I mean, we're still learning exactly what was hit. We're hearing various things from various countries. What do you think that these strikes might have achieved? I mean, they're not just hitting these militias.


They seem to be hitting Revolutionary Guard facilities and perhaps trying to compromise the supply lines from Iran to these militias?

RYAN: Well, the initial round of strikes full of targeted command centers say it would have hoped to kill some of the advisers to send a strong message to Iran, as well as the supplies of missiles and rockets. For the end of the day, the really important thing these strikes do will be to prompt a reaction from these militias that will probably unveil other targets for the days that have come.

WATT: That was going to be my next question. What do we expect to see next? So you're suggesting that there might be a response from these militias, which gives their position away?

RYAN: Absolutely. You'll see them squirting out all over the place potentially. Now by that time to prepare, not just the last six days, but for months now, as they've undertaken these attacks with response from the U.S. So they'll be prepared for these kinds of strikes. But inevitably, they will now do things that will unveil them, that allow the U.S. and the Jordanians who will be part of this to strike them again over the coming days.

WATT: But the U.S. has never going to be able to destroy these malicious completely. They could degrade them, but they're still going to be there, right?

RYAN: Absolutely, I mean the aim of this whole campaign, a piece of being knocked to be the total destruction of militia is it's about de- escalation. As a reporter said, it's been over 160 attacks on U.S. installations and people. What the U.S. is trying to do is de-escalate the situation while saying to Iran, please call your militias into order.

WATT: Major General Mick Ryan, joining us from Brisbane, thank you very much for your time.

The U.N. says southern Gaza's humanitarian crisis is like a pressure cooker. As intense fighting drives thousands of people to flee further south, that story and more after a quick break.




LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is a dangerous moment in the Middle East. We will continue to work to avoid a wider conflict in a region. But we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interest and our people.


WATT: Welcome back.

That was the pentagon chief on Thursday, a little more than a day before the U.S. hit dozens of Iran linked militia targets in Syria and Iraq. The strikes are retaliation for the deadly attack on a U.S. base that killed three American soldiers. Syrian media and Iraqi officials have identified some of the locations that were hit, with serious military claiming that an unspecified number of civilians and soldiers were killed. It's not clear yet how Iran or its proxies will respond.

CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson has the regional state of play.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, of course, one of the big concerns for the United States going into these strikes is that it didn't trigger a further escalation in the region, the tensions already clearly very high. The northern border of Israel with Hezbollah has exchange of fire every day, the IDF is engaged with Hamas inside of Gaza. The question is, could these strikes then trigger a misinterpretation of another move? Could it trigger one of the -- one of Iran's proxies in Iraq and Syria to strike back aggressively and therefore escalate the situation?

Well, the first we've heard is from the Iraq government. A spokesman for the army there is saying it's a violation of their sovereignty. Now we've heard them say this before, so that in itself not necessarily an escalation, the biggest and strongest of the Iran- backed militias inside of Iraq, Kateab Hezbollah just before the strikes, minutes before the strikes on the Telegram channel, they said they were waiting for orders about what to do next, an indication that they're waiting for Tehran, their main sponsor, to tell them how to respond to the events of the night.

It's not clear yet how much damage has been done. How many of the IRGC members and how much of their weapons who have been damaged and destroyed overnight. But I think perhaps looking to what the president of Iran has said, he said, we're not looking to get into a direct fight with the United States but he's clearly hinting very strongly that there will be a response. He said, we will deal with bullies authoritatively. I think in the language of this region, that means the United States

strike, although there'll be more, they certainly won't be the last word from Iran's proxies in the region.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Tel Aviv, Israel.


WATT: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East on Sunday to continue hostage negotiations. The U.S. State Department says he will travel to Israel, the West Bank, Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to work on a deal to secure the release of hostages held in Gaza. The leaders of Hamas and Islamic jihad are calling for a, quote, complete end to the aggression and the full withdrawal if Israeli forces from Gaza as part of any deal.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said as recently as this week that he would not agree to a full withdrawal from Gaza until Israel has completed its goal of eliminating Hamas.


The U.N. says the escalating, fighting around Khan Younis is forcing thousands of civilians to flee further south. The U.N.'s humanitarian office says the surge of people into Rafah has turned the city into a, quote, pressure cooker of despair. Israel's military claims it killed dozens of Hamas fighters in recent days. That health ministry in Gaza said Israel has killed 112 people and wounded 148 in 24 hours, between Thursday and Friday.

The Palestinian Red Crescent is calling for a humanitarian corridor to allow people to flee Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis. The area has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the enclave in recent weeks, and thousands had to take shelter at the hospital. Israel's military claims, it is dismantling Hamas military framework in Khan Younis.

More than -- more than 800 officials from the United States and Europe have signed a letter criticizing their government's policies toward Israel. They are calling on their governments to, quote, use all leverage to secure a ceasefire. And they accused their governments of failing to hold Israel to the same standards they apply to other countries.

The International Court of Justice says one part of the genocide related case brought by Ukraine against Russia can proceed. Ukraine filed the case just days after Russia invaded. Moscow had claimed their invasion was sparked by Ukraine carrying out genocide in the east of Ukraine where the two sides have been fighting since 2014. Ukraine wants the court to declare that that is not so. The court will proceed on that, but the court will not rule on Ukraine's claim that Russia's invasion itself is genocidal.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's military chief is still attending top-level meetings despite reports that he's about to be fired. On Friday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with general Valerii Zaluzhnyi and other officials to discuss military matters. Mr. Zelenskyy later referred to Zaluzhnyi as the commander in chief in its social media post. Sources have told CNN that the general is expected to be out of his job by the end of the week and his dismissal would be the biggest military shakeup in Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion.

An unusual trial in the U.S. state of Michigan, a jury will decide whether the mother of a teenage school shooter should go the prison for her son's crimes.



WATT: South Carolina's Democratic primary gets underway in the coming hours. It's the Democrats first official nominating contest of the 2024 presidential race. And while it's not competitive, it's expected to provide a snapshot of where President Joe Biden stands with voters, especially Black voters, a core constituency of the Democratic Party.

State Republicans won't hold their primary until February 24, while Nevada is GOP will choose their candidate in the coming week, but Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley remained in South Carolina Friday, working to pull off a long-shot when in her home state and taking aim at Democrats.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're trying to get everybody that they know to vote in the Democrat primary so that Joe can get whatever he is going to get. And I wanted, you know, I've always spoken in hard truths and I'm going to speak to you in hard truths again today because that's what I did as your governor.

We will have a female president of the United States.


WATT: But the odds are against Haley, a new Monmouth University/Washington Post poll finds her trailing former President Donald Trump in the state by more than 25 points.

Amid Trump's growing court cases, the federal judge overseeing his election interference case in Washington, D.C. has postponed that trial. Proceedings were set to start on March 4th, but as CNN's Katelyn Polantz reports, that delay is due to Trump's appeal on his claims of presidential immunity.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Donald Trump's first criminal trial will no longer be about the 2020 election and the end of his presidency. That is because a federal judge on Friday said it couldn't begin on March 4, the reason is because the law hasn't been worked out yet. There are questions about presidential immunity, whether Trump even can face trial that are before an appeals court. That appeals court hasn't ruled in weeks. And so as the weight for the opinion continues, day after day after

day, that means that Trumps team is not preparing for trial and the trial is not going to be able to go forward as scheduled. This is the trial in Washington, D.C., a federal case against Trump, but he is still set to go to trial in March, in the end of March, in fact, is when the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is set to put on his case against Trump. Now, as a defendant related to a hush money scheme and the falsification of business records.


So in right now, that is supposed to be the first criminal trial against Trump on the calendar. There is a lot of moving parts here. Trial dates do move and this case with Judge Tanya Chutkan, there is much anticipation of when the appeals court will determine what the law is here, when it will go back to Judge Chutkan and when that 2020 election case could be put back on the calendar, and especially whether it will happen before the presidential election of 2024, something the Justice Department very much wants to happen, no matter when the Manhattan das case and other cases against Trump go forward.

So we will wait and see that Trump, of course, doesn't want this trial to happen before the presidential election in November. It would shine quite a light on the end of his presidency, how he managed his White House. There would be formal officials called to testify against him very possibly his own former Vice President Mike Pence, and it would put a spotlight on how Donald Trump viewed elections in a critical moment where he is still running for the American presidency.

Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.


WATT: Now, to the latest in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case against Trump, and more than a dozen have his allies. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, and her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade, have acknowledged in court papers they have a personal relationship in addition to their profession special one. But they strongly denied claims by one of Trumps co-defendants that Willis benefited financially from hiring Wade.

Willis says the relationship should not disqualify her from the case. Willis weighed and some of their colleagues could be forced to testify at a hearing on the matter in about two weeks. She has called for the hearing to be canceled. Trump's team says she should be dismissed from the case.

Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a high school shooter, wrapped up testimony in her manslaughter trial in Michigan on Friday. The jury is expected to begin deliberating on Monday, whether she should go to prison for her role in her son's actions.

CNN's Jean Casarez has more on that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: We actually saw the last day he was practicing to kill four of his classmates and there was only one person within ladies and gentlemen, and her name is Jennifer Crumbley.

SHANNON SMITH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR JENNIFER CRUMBLEY: It was unforeseeable. No one expected this. No one could have expected, including Mrs. Crumbley.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorneys making their final pitches to persuade the jury in this historic trial of the mother of the oxford Michigan school shooter, he locked when just the smallest, smallest of things could have saved, couldn't have helped Hana and Tate and Madisyn and Justin, just the smallest of things. And not only did she not do it, she doesn't even regret it.

SMITH: The Crumbley son was a skilled manipulator and they didn't realize it. He's not sick. He doesn't have a mental illness. No parent would purchase a weapon if they believe their child he had mental illnesses.

CASAREZ: Before closing arguments began, Jennifer Crumbley, face cross-examination, testifying she knew her son was acting depressed after his only friend moved away, just one month before the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you know to be true in November of 2021 that he had no peer support.

JENNIFER CRUMBLEY, MOTHER OF OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTER: I don't know what he had in school. He had told me he had friends in school. He talks to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, you never met them?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And he didn't have any clubs at school he was a part of?


CASAREZ: Jennifer Crumbley is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. She has pleaded not guilty. The prosecution pressing Crumbley on her actions the day of the shooting. That morning, the school called in Jennifer Crumbley and her husband after discovering a violent drawing their son made on his math worksheet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the thoughts wont stop helped me, that ring out to you?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, that was concerning to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood everywhere and there's a bullet and actually you were the ones that bought the bullets in November 27th.

CRUMBLEY: Correct. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You later came to learn those bullets were using

the shooting?


CASAREZ: In the meeting at school, Crumbley did not mention the gun purchased for days earlier for their 15 year-old son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't tell them that you had gotten him that Christmas

CRUMBLEY: I didn't think it was relevant. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You acknowledge that you didn't go home to look for that firearm after the meeting at the school.

CRUMBLEY: We didn't have a reason to.

CASAREZ: Her son used that gun to kill four of his classmates, Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Justin Shilling, and Hana St. Juliana, after that meeting on November 30th, 2021.


The prosecution asking Crumbley whether she neglected her son, pointing to how often she spent time with her horses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your son could have been with you those 3, 4, 5 times a week when you were at the barn.

CRUMBLEY: He could have, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And on November the 30th of 2021, at 12:51 p.m., you could have been with him.

CRUMBLEY: I could have, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you didn't.


CASAREZ: In closings, Crumbley's lawyer dismissing that argument.

SMITH: Just because she spends money and time on horses, doesn't mean she doesn't love her son.


CASAREZ: Closing arguments concluded late Friday afternoon. The jury will return on Monday, where they will hear instructions from the judge, and then they will begin their deliberations.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.

WATT: Thousands of sheep and cattle have been stuck on a ship for nearly a month. We'll tell you what Australia is doing with them. That's next.



WATT: An update on a story we've been following from Australia. Thousands of sheep and cattle stranded aboard an Israeli own ship off the coast. The Australian government started off loading several hundred cattle from the ship Friday night. The ship had originally left Fremantle January the 5th, bound for the Middle East. It turned around 15 days into its journey due to what Australia is calling a worsening security situation in the Red Sea.

Dozens of French farmers say they'll continue to protest because the government has not addressed their concerns about climate change. More than 100 farmers blocked a supermarket in western France on Friday. Elsewhere in the country, many other farmers started lifting blockades after the government announced concessions.

To the north, Dutch and Belgian farmers joined together in a border blockade the same day complaining in part about E.U. regulations


JOHAN VAN ENCKEVORT, DUTCH PIG FARMER FROM THE NETHERLANDS (through translator): My message to Europe is that they should think very carefully. We are very nice products here in the E.U. And we want to continue to make those products.

NICOLAS PUSSEMIER, FARMER (through translator): People are fed. We can see clearly, given the scale of the mobilization. We know that the level of being fed up has reached its maximum.

JEAN CHENE, ORGANIC DAIRY FARMER (through translator): Why are we carrying on? Because lots of us farmers think we haven't been heard on keeping sustainability matters.


WATT: Farmers have been protesting for weeks and many European countries about competition from Ukraine and other issues.

California is bracing for a new storm system to hit the state on Sunday. It's expected to bring more flooding and heavy mountain snow into early next week.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the details.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Another very heavy round of rain in store for Central California from the Bay Area, all the way down to southern California after what we saw just a couple of days ago, record-breaking rain falls across SoCal. Even L.A. picked up 2.49 inches in one day. The total for the entire month of February should be around three inches. So, almost an entire months worth of rain in just 24 hours.

The next atmospheric river is on the way for southern California. It will make significant rains from the bay area down through Monterey and all the way down even towards Santa Barbara, and eventually into L.A. It's going to take a to get there. But something else that's going to happen a significantly gusty winds here along the Central Coast, we are going to see wind gusts, 50 to 70 miles per hour that will bring down trees that will bring down power lines, all of those things that happen. And especially in places that already have saturated ground from the rain that we picked up three days ago.

So here it is, the storm does come into San Francisco first, snow in the Sierra, and then all the way down even toward Santa -- about Santa Barbara, by the time we work our way into Sunday morning. It gets into la later in the day and into the night, and then it pushes to the east.

How long this heavy band of rain stays over southern California before it moves inland is going to be the big question mark. How much of this forecasted rainfall actually comes down before it moves away. If this storm or if this front, a little system here begins to stall and it rains for hours and hours and hours, there will be a signal flood event for SoCal, all the way up even toward San Francisco, certainly along the coast where from Monterey, all the way down, even toward Pismo Beach, could pick in the mountains, could pick up a dozen inches of rainfall. Not along the coast as much, but when you start to push that air up into the mountains, all of that water has to run back downhill and we know what happens to the highway when that happens.

So yes, we have only 53 percent of the snowpack in the Sierra. So well take the snow, but its that heavy, heavy rainfall that is going to run off possibly with mudslides all of the things that could happen just depends on where this storm, if it does stalls over California.


WATT: Tesla is recalling 2.2 million vehicles in the United States.


Regulators say the font size on the warning lights for functions such as anti-lock braking is too small. They say that can make critical safety information difficult to read even though its classified as a recall, the problem will actually be fixed with an over the air software update. Tesla owners won't have to take their vehicles to a service center.

Take a look at outer space as you've never seen it before. The web telescope captured these images of 19 spiral galaxies in unprecedented detail. They showcase the stars, gas and dust within the intricate structure of each galaxy. It features clustering because of old stars or super massive black holes. Astronomers say they are excited to study the newest, most massive stars in the galaxies. They say they hope to learn how galaxies nurture and cease the formation of stars.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt in Los Angeles. I'll be back same time tomorrow.

CNN NEWSROOM with Kim is next.