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Hala Gorani Tonight
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Aired October 28, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight we're following two breaking stories.
New details first of the raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, we expect the U.S. Defense Secretary to speak any moment and perhaps more
information will be released at that point about the circumstances surrounding the raid.
And we know now that Brexit will not happen this week but we're waiting to learn if there will be an election, a general election in this country to
break the deadlock here in the U.K. This hour, Boris Johnson will call for an early election. His hope is to get it for December 12th. Will
lawmakers allow it and vote for it?
But let's start with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. We're learning new details today about the dramatic U.S. operation that killed the ISIS leader. This
news we've just received about his remains.
First off, U.S. defense officials tell CNN the man who was once one of the world's most feared and despised terrorist has been given an anonymous
burial disposed of at sea reminiscing of what happened by the way with Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda after he was killed an American
operation in Pakistan.
Now, as I mentioned, we are waiting for U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper to speak soon at the Pentagon. We could and we expect to get more
information on this raid including how the U.S. and its allies in the region tracked al-Baghdadi down, perhaps even some new footage. This is
something that we are going to confirm imminently.
Now, these pictures show the site of the now destroyed compound where he was killed. President Donald Trump says he may release videos showing part
of the weekend raid. He said that al-Baghdadi's death was long overdue.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRES.: He should've been killed years ago. Another president should've gotten him. But to me it was very important. I would
say all the time they'd walk into my office; sir, we killed this leader at a lower level, this leader.
I said I never heard of him. I want al-Baghdadi. That's the only one I know now. I want al-Baghdadi. Get him. And they got him.
GORANI: Well, while we wait to hear from the U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, let's bring in our senior international correspondent Nick Paton
Walsh live tonight in northern Iraq. We're also joined by White House reporter Stephen Collinson.
What more are we learning today from the region, Nick, surrounding the operation or concerning the U.S. operation that led to the death of
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean we are learning that possibly one of the threads of intelligence that led the
Americans to that compound may have emanated from Iraq.
Now, while the U.S. has not disclosed how they came to know he was there, the Syrian Kurds, their partners in the fight against ISIS have said that
four or five months ago they began joint intelligence work.
But the Iraqis have stepped forward today, a senior intelligence official in Baghdad saying that in fact the sentence (ph) around aide to Baghdadi
known as Muhammad (inaudible) who was picked -- sorry (inaudible) who was picked up on the outskirts of Baghdad two months ago.
And then subsequently led the Iraqis to a currier who was killed in a raid, the currier's wife that appears had document that suggested Baghdadi's
whereabouts. And I should stress we have no confirmation of that.
We're seminal to the hunt against Baghdadi and there are lots of different actors in the region trying to suggest they had some role in this obviously
because so many of the different governments around here wanted Baghdadi dead, wanted ISIS in the demise.
We're also learning too that the information most likely collected in that compound you're seeing there aerial shots of led -- has led to further
operations most likely by U.S. forces. One of which may have targeted ISIS's spokesman, possibly a successor to some degree to Baghdadi Abu
Now he seems according to Syrian Kurds and also an Iraqi source too to have been killed outside (inaudible) also closes to Idlib, not in Idlib but also
under Turkish militia influence as well. Unclear precisely what he was doing there. There are some gruesome pictures of the aftermath of an
But this would lend credence to the broader idea suggested by some U.S. defense officials that because their footprint is being reduced inside
Syria because they've had to withdrawal because their numbers are coming down under the instructions of commander and chief President Donald Trump
that they're having to take people out.
They would normally just watch their behavior. Remember, if you're looking for Baghdadi you look for his henchmen to lead them to him so to speak.
So, they're not able to do that so much.
Baghdadi is now dead and perhaps they're simply taking out senior leadership as quickly as they can rather than seeing an area which used to
be under the control slip increasingly under the influence of Russia in the Syrian regime, Hala.
GORANI: Right. And Stephen Collinson, the White House released the situation room photo of the president and his top lieutenants there perhaps
watching the operation or soon after. I'm not exactly sure of the timing there.
But it looks quite different from the one that the Obama White House released during the operation in Pakistan that led to the death of Osama
bin Laden where it looked like it was actually taking place, the operation. And you'll remember Hilary Clinton who was Secretary of State at the time
with her hand over her mouth.
In this case it's a very different vibe we're getting from this photo. And the president of course achieved this victory and the death of Abu Bakr al-
Baghdadi has been celebrated on both sides of the aisle, Muslims, all over the world obviously.
But he needed agencies and institutions. He's been disparaging almost nonstop since he took office. How is he going to -- how is he going to
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN W.H. REPORTER: That's right, Hala. Well, consistency has never been a part of Donald Trump's makeup, especially as
president. So, he will take the path that is most politically advantageous towards him but you're right.
U.S. intelligence assets and agencies were involved in this have been branded for much of the president's time in office as part of a deep state
setting out to undermine him, so there's clearly irony there.
And I think to what Nick was saying, there's another big irony here is that many of the apparent lines of cooperation between the United Stated and
it's allies in the region, the Kurds, the Iraqis, the fact that the U.S. had assets in the region that enabled it to take this action may not be
available to the president in the future.
If he goes ahead with his plan to do what -- to exit what he says are the long blood stain sands of the Middle East, the center of his political
pitch on this. So, you have two separate strands developing Washington -- in Washington right now.
The president trying to lock in a political win to claim credit for this and the strategic question here that are raised by his own policies and the
fact that perhaps an operation like this may not be possible in the future and that gets to the political debate about what the United States should
do now to try and stop a resurgence of ISIS even the absence of Baghdadi.
GORANI: And these American forces, I mean they used eight helicopters, they had to fly through airspace controlled by Russia, by Turkey, by Iraq.
But they spent quite a bit of time on the ground despite the fact that that part of Syria is controlled by al-Qaeda affiliated groups. Can you give us
a sense of why they felt they could spend that amount of time in that area where the raid took place?
COLLINSON: I think it's very interesting and that it shows there are so many questions that are unanswered about this. It doesn't seem like this
was an effort by the United States to go through a hostile territory. Perhaps that's something that we're going to learn from the briefing from
the Defense Secretary.
GORANI: Sorry. Stephen, in fact, my (inaudible) apologies, I meant that for Nick who has been covering the raid itself. Nick, just give us a sense
of why these Special Forces felt comfortable spending quite a bit of time on the ground.
WALSH: I mean, they took with them overwhelming (inaudible). You look at the video of the (inaudible) scene and the blast there is clear though it
was air covered, many helicopters -- attack helicopters.
So, there's nobody in that area who'd remotely frankly disturb an operation of that scale and size. Plus the U.S. Special Forces would've set up a
parameter to some degree to protect the operation as it unfolds.
Remember, the militias operating in that area, a lot of them have backing from Turkey. Some of them are al-Qaeda but they simply wouldn't have the
firepower to undergo near something like that is the most likely explanation and of course the U.S.--
GORANI: And Nick, sorry to jump in, the U.S. Defense Secretary had just made his way to the podium. Let's listen in.
MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: United States joint special operations forces conducted a successful raid on Saturday night resulting
in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS. This operation was the combination of a multi-year interagency effort to find
him and then capture or kill him.
Baghdadi and the thugs who follow him were responsible for some of the most brutal atrocities of our time. His death marks a devastating blow for the
(inaudible) of ISIS, who are now deprived of their inspirational leader following the destruction of their physical caliphate earlier this year.
I want to thank our brave service members who took part in this daring raid along with our interagency partners who supported the mission. There is no
guarantee of success in an operation with this level of difficulty.
And President Trump knew this when he made the bold decision to order the raid confident in the expertise of our forces.
And they executed the raid and all of its facets brilliantly. Not a single United States service member was killed in this high risk operation.
Despite Baghdadi's death, the security situation in Syria remains complex. Multiple state and non-state actors continue to vie for control of
territory and resources within the country.
As we learned from our recent history in the Middle East, it is very easy to get drawn into continued conflict if our objectives are not clear.
Acting as a police force out to solve every dispute is not our mission.
Our mission in Syria today remains the same as it was when we first began operations in 2014, to enable the enduring defeat of ISIS. Our recent
repositioning of forces within the country is intended to posture us to continue this mission and give the president options, while returning the
balance back home to the United States.
Those who remain will continue to execute counterterrorism operations while staying in close contact with the Syrian Democratic forces, who have fought
along side us. Additionally, the United States will retain control of oil fields in northeast Syria.
At the height of Baghdadi's reign, these oil fields provided ISIS with the bulk of financial resources used to fund its terror. U.S. troops will
remain positioned in this strategic area to deny ISIS access those vital -- to those vital resources and we will respond with overwhelming military
force against any group that threatens the safety of our forces there.
These oil fields also provide a critical source of funding to the SDF, which enables their ability secure ISIS prison camps and conduct operations
against ISIS among other things. Last week I was in Brussels for the NATO Defense Ministerial and I spoke with our allies about the situation in
I reiterated our commitment to the defeat of ISIS and called on other nations who have much at stake to offer their support to help mitigate the
ongoing security crisis. Turkey continues to bear responsibility for the consequences of their unwarranted incursion, which has brought further
instability to the region.
A number of allies have expressed their desire to help with the implementation of a safe zone along the Syria-Turkey border. The United
States remains focused on our core mission and continue to work closely with the Defeat ISIS Coalition as we implement the next phase of the
Baghdadi's death will not rid the world of terrorism or end the ongoing conflict in Syria, but it will certainly send a message to those who
question America's resolve and provide a warning to terrorists who think they can hide.
The United States, more than any other nation in the world possesses the power and the will to hunt to the ends of the earth those who wish to bring
harm upon the American people.
Saturday's operation is just one example of the incredible determination and great skill of the United States military. I will now as General
Milley to provide you with some additional details on the operation. Thank you.
GENERAL MARK MILLEY, UNITED STATES ARMY GENERAL: Sir, good afternoon everyone. As Secretary Esper stated, the United Sates Special Operation
Forces under the command and control of the United States Central Command, General Frank McKenzie conducted a counterterrorism operation which
resulted in the death of the funder and the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi.
Intelligence from numerous organizations throughout the Department of Defense and across the entire interagency identified the target location
approximately four miles from the Turkish border in Idlib province of Syria.
In order to reduce the risk to U.S. forces and prevent miscalculation and escalation, an action consistent with operations in the past we coordinated
with appropriate militaries and other organizations in the region who established deconfliction mechanisms.
During the mission, U.S. forces were infiltrated by helicopter, and once on the objective secured the target compound. The assault force was engaged
with small arms fire and the threats were quickly eliminated. Our forces isolated the compound and protected all the non-combatants.
While clearing the objectives, the U.S. forces discovered al-Baghdadi hiding in a tunnel. The assault force closed in on Baghdadi and ended when
he detonated a suicide vest. Baghdadi's remains were then transported to a secure facility to confirm his identity with forensic DNA testing and the
disposal of his remains has been done, it is complete and was handled appropriately.
The success of this complex operation is an incredible testimate to the professionalism of the men and women of the joint force and our interagency
partners and the courage and their bravery. They put themselves in harms way time and time again to protect our great country.
The Secretary and I will now take your questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the oil fields and securing the oil fields in the east of Syria. Has the deployment of
reinforcement that you announced last week begun and could you describe more fully what that -- what you intend to do there?
ESPER: We have begun deploying and repositioning additional assets into the vicinity of Dararzarwa (ph). As I said the other day, includes
mechanized forces and other types of forces. That will continue until we believe we have sufficient capability to ensure ISIS and other
destabilizing actors are denied access to that oil facility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a quick follow-up, have you had any indications of any challenges to your presence there or --
ESPER: Not at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, do you have video of Baghdadi's final moments? And also, are you partnering with the Kurds again on the ground? Can you
explain how difficult this operation would have been if you didn't have troops or bases on the ground in Syria and in Iraq.
ESPER: I'll let -- go ahead, I'm --
MILLEY: Well, we do have video, photos, we're not prepared at this time to release those. They're going through a declassification process. I think
what you'll see here in the coming days is we'll set up some operational and tactical level briefings by Central Command and you'll be provided some
video and photos, et cetera, of the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How difficult would it have been to carry out this operation if you didn't have troops on the ground?
MILLEY: From an operational standpoint, the United States military can strike any target, anywhere, anytime.
ESPER: Yes, I was going to say the same thing. We have incredible reach, we can strike anybody, anytime, anywhere. The terrorists should be aware
of that, they should have seen that now after us doing this multiple times. And with regard to your question regarding the SDF, we stay in continuous
contact with them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nancy (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. I was wondering if you could clarify a couple points. First, what was used to destroy the compound? What kind of
ordinates was used to destroy the compound? Also, you mentioned that you had video. Do you video from inside the tunnel itself? And if so, were
you able to get that because the canine was wearing video or do you something else?
MILLEY: Sure. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, one more. And --
MILLEY: (Inaudible) you just get one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, how about one and a half. The name of the canine, please.
ESPER: That was mine.
MILLEY: You get three, that was three. So, ordinance used, there was multiples types of ordinates used to include the jazimes (ph), the GBUs
(ph), L fires (ph) as well as many guns, small arms fire, et cetera. So, we use a variety of munitions, and those -- the bombs were used at the tail
end in order to destroy the compound which you saw on various videos, et cetera.
Your second question about the video, I'm not going to classify the video, what we do have and don't have at this time. I've seen a lot and I'll wait
until everything's appropriately declassified here in the coming days and we'll make sure that you're provided that.
We're not releasing the name of the dog right now. The dog is still in theatre (ph). The dog, the canine, the military working dog performed a
tremendous service, as they all do, in a variety of situations. Slightly wounded and fully recovering, but the dog is still in theatre, returned to
duty with its handler. So, we're not going to release, just yet, photos or names of dogs or anything else.
ESPER: Protecting his identity.
MILLEY: Protecting the dog's identity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you allowed to say that -- whether Baghdadi is buried at sea?
ESPER: That's four questions now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Follow-up. That's a follow-up.
MILLEY: Baghdadi was -- is -- his remains were disposed of appropriately in accordance with our SOPs and in accordance with the law of conflict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was this Baghdadi's headquarters, this compound, or was he just passing through? And if it was his headquarters, how much material
did you take away.
MILLEY: There was material taken away. I don't want to characterize exactly what or how much yet, until it gets exploited properly. But as a
matter of course, we always do sensitive sight exploitation on any objective anywhere to do that.
As to whether it's his headquarters, it was an area in which he was staying on a consistent basis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what about prisoners, he took some. How many? And who's custody are they in now?
MILLEY: They're in our custody and they're in a secure facility.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us how many?
MILLEY: There were two adult males taken off the objective, alive and they're in our custody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dan (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman, I thank you for your time today. I wanted to look at the what's next aspect. The president alluded to materials
being collected from the sight itself. Can you, in any way, elaborate on what's been collected, what's being looked through now and what that might
MILLEY: It would be best not to for operational reasons, because that information needs to be exploited properly for any follow-on missions that
we may choose to.
ESPER: I think the what next, is we -- we'll continue the mission. And the mission is to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS in the region, and
that's our mission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A follow-up please? We've seen reporting that this raid was launched from al-Asad, from Erbil. Can you clarify where it came
MILLEY: Operationally we're not going to discuss the location from which the raid took place. It took place, obviously, in somewhere in the region.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: General Milley, can I take you back to the question on the oil fields and the military role in the oil field remission if I
may? So you're going to protect them again and keep control against ISIS and other potential - potential adversaries. Does it include the
possibility, in your view, that U.S. troops are prepared to deny access to the oil fields to either Russian and/or Syrian forces? Is it in fact part
of your mission to specifically deny them access? And my follow on to that is how do you know when you -- or what do you need to see to know you're
done with the oil field mission? Presumably you're not keeping troops there absolutely forever. How do you know when you're done? What do you need to
see but (ph) Russia and Syria please?
GENERAL MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Yes, so the question you're asking Barbara (ph) is about purpose and instate and then
ways would be the military questions. So I'm going to punt over to the secretary specifically for that but the military task that we've been given
is to secure - to continue to secure Kamf(ph), which is down along - you know where that is - down along the tri-border area. We'll continue to do
that and to secure the Conico oil fields in and around Darazor. That is in the vicinity of the middle(ph) Euphrates River that you're familiar with
and the fundamental purpose of securing those oil fields is to deny those oil fields access to ISIS in order to prevent ISIS from resurgence because
we are still committed to the counter-ISIS campaign and we don't want them to resurge. They get a lot of their revenues from that but I'll let the
Secretary talk about in state.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My specific question is within what you want to do in the oil fields, does that include denying access, preventing Russian or
Syrian forces which now have changed the battle space.
MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: And so the short answer is yes it presently does because in that case we want to make sure that SDF does have
access to the resources in order to guard the prisons, in order to arm their own troops, in order to assist us with the Defeat ISIS mission. So
that's our mission, to secure the oil fields. Next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you just said you would deny Russia and the regime. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: General Milley, President Trump described yesterday Baghdadi whimpering and crying before he died. Can you elaborate or confirm
MILLEY: The Secretary was asked the same question yesterday. I know that president had planned to talk down to the unit and unit members but I don't
know what the source of that was Sam (ph) but I assume it was talking directly to unit and unit members.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you don't have - you haven't talked to any unit members that described that to you?
MILLEY: I have not talked to unit members. No, that's correct. I have talked to the commanders of CENTCOM and others but not down to the unit
members down at that level of fidelity(ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for doing this. So the SDF commander has said that there was an SDF member that was part of this raid. He's talked
about the intelligence that the SDF provided, putting a person inside with ISIS. Can you confirm all of those details on your end and then also on the
oil fields, can you just talk about the overall picture in Syria now after these last couple of weeks, putting more people in to protect these oil
fields. Are there going to be more troops now in Syria than there were before?
ESPER: Well I'll take the second question first and I'll let the Chairman ask - answer the first one. Look we're - we're - as I said we're
reinforcing our position in Darazor, that area. We also - we were given the earlier directive to retain forces at the Al-Tanf(ph) Garrison. At the
end of the day, we will be sending troops home. That's the - the president made a commitment to do that but in the meantime we're going to reinforce
and make some other moves to ensure that we can accomplish that mission of securing the oil fields in order to deny access to ISIS.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So will there be more going in than there will coming out? Sorry, just to clarify.
ESPER: No, no at the end of the day, my expectation is that there will be fewer than what we had before and they will be going home.
MILLEY: Now help me and remind me of the first question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first question was about the SDF commander...
MILLEY: Yes. Yes. So this was a U.S. only operation for personnel that were on the objective. I know what you're referring to. There was a
comment somewhere reported in the media that the SDF had soldiers or troops or one person or something on the objective with our forces. I'm not going
to comment on what or may not have happened with the SDF on the objective. The actions on the objective -- the aircraft coming in, the aircraft
overhead and the soldiers conducting assault was a U.S. only operation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thanks guys. If you have any faults(ph) you can contact me or Mr. Hoffman(ph).
GORANI: The U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper there and General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff updating reporters and
updating us all on this operation that led to the death of Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi very close to the Turkish border in Idlib in northern Syria.
We have with us Nick Paton Walsh. We're also joined by Sam Kiley who is on the Turkish/Syrian border and national security reporter for the
"Washington Post" Joby Warrick. He's the author of the Pullitzer Prize winning book, "Black Flag: The Rise of ISIS." And Joby I want to start
with you. What did you make of this operation, of this update we just received from the Defense Secretary and General Milley that led to the
death finally of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
JOBY WARRICK, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER AND AUTHOR: A few new details that were interesting. We know the dog survived. I think folks were just
waiting to hear what happened there. And then little details. We had confirmed before that the body was taken away and disposed at sea and
that's actually important to say they did it at the time of bin Laden's death in a way to keep it from becoming sort of a symbol or a shrine later
on for followers and also acting according to military law. So that was interesting.
Operationally, it's pretty much as we thought. There's been some interesting discussion about what role exactly the SDF played, the Kurdish
forces. It does appear that they were important. They played a vital role. They may not have come in with the military forces but what we've been told
from folks on the ground is they were indispensible to at least the location facility and the way the operations carried out.
GORANI: And Joby we learned two adult males were taken into custody.
WARRICK: Exactly and that's new and they are alive and in custody; we don't know where. A secured facility - I'm not sure what that means but
obviously that's a potential source of future intelligence as is the material that was seized and you can't underestimate the value of that. It
may be more important in the long run than the death of Baghdadi himself to have sort of perhaps names of network leaders and the location of nodes
that ISIS operates around those two countries so that could be very fruitful in the end.
GORANI: And Nick Paton Walsh you're - in your view the General Milley said that the U.S. is not prepared to release images/video but that there
is video and once that material is declassified they might share some of that with us Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. What we don't know is what they were asked, he wouldn't elaborate if that includes the final
moments of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when he was in that particular tunnel where he took his own life with a suicide vest. I have to tell you I was quite
stunned actually by how little detail we got from that press conference. Yes, we know the dog is alive. Yes, we know there were two men taking
custody. I think that was kind of indicated from my witnesses at the time and we know that there is video where that was sort of widely thought to be
the case as well but when pressed on some of the key issues, very little more forthcoming frankly. We don't know where the operation was launched
from. I think this is more a reflection frankly on how far Donald Trump went when he gave his press conference on this and possibly how much
information he divulged that may not have been expected.
One interesting point to remind people of during that too was when Mark Milley was pressed as to whether or not he could confirm that Baghdadi died
whimpering, screaming. He said he could not and he said he thought the president had, in fact, spoken to the team itself on the ground to get that
information but the Joint Chief of Staff, the most senior military officer in the U.S. wasn't able to confirm that key repeated detail that Donald
Trump kept bringing up. Hala.
GORANI: I'll get to Sam in just a moment but Joby, I thought it was interesting that both officials said that they would send U.S. troops or
that U.S. troops would be sent to secure these oil fields near Darazor, to secure them so they wouldn't fall in the hands of ISIS. But Donald Trump,
the U.S. President has said and again repeated today, we're keeping the oil. What are we supposed to make of this?
WARRICK: It's exactly. It's puzzling because obviously that's a very difficult thing to do. There's no real rational or legal basis for seizing
the oil, in fact, it's forbidden under international law. The Nazis were prosecuted for plundering, for seizing assets of countries they occupied so
you can't do that plus it's - also it's not clear how any U.S. company would operate in an area as dangerous as that. The oil fields aren't that
productive. The quality of the oil is not that good and it's in a war zone so there's all kinds of reasons why you wouldn't expect Exxon Mobile to
come in and set up operations. And also I think for the local populations the idea of us coming in as a country and seizing their most valuable asset
is deeply disturbing. So for protecting it from ISIS that's one thing but it's not really clear to me that ISIS is prepared to come in and take oil
fields again so we'll have to see where that goes.
GORANI: And the idea of Americans coming into the Middle East to take Arab oil certainly is an idea that is not popular in the region to say the
Sam, we learned, as well, from General Milly that a variety of munitions were used and ultimately that bombs were dropped on the compound basically
obliterating it. What more did we learn in terms of the operation itself, Sam?
SAM KILEY, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's also quite telling what was not said. So for example, the general said that
only Americans flew in and flew out. But he avoided saying whether or not there were any efforts, local efforts, possibly SDF agents on the ground.
And if you recall, Donald Trump said the 11 children rescued from that compound were handed over to somebody. We've been unable to disCulver who
that somebody was.
But I think that definitely some regal ramping left there too assuming that there are some people on the ground who were helpful, both in terms of
looking after these children and in terms of providing the intelligence that led to the raid.
In the first place, just one thing to add on the oil there, Secretary Esper made it absolutely clear that this was going to be an income generating
project for the SDF as part of the combat against the so-called Islamic State going forward.
All right. Thank you so much, Sam Kiley at the border, and Nick Paton Walsh, and a special thanks to Joby Warrick who joined us from the
Washington Post today. Thanks for being with us. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Welcome back. The very latest on Brexit. British lawmakers are expected to vote soon on Boris Johnson's plan for a general election
December 12. The prime minister hopes a new parliament will approve his Brexit plan breaking the long deadlock on leaving the European Union,
essentially wants to strengthen his hand.
Remember, he does not have a majority in parliament and because opinion polls are favorable to the Conservatives right now, he wants an election so
that he gets a majority and gets his plans through.
Now, Britain got a bit of a reprieve earlier with just three days until the official Brexit deadline. Remember, it was going to be a Halloween Brexit,
October 31st. Well, the European Union has agreed to another delay. It gave the U.K. more time to work this all out.
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted this out saying the E.U 27 has agreed that it will accept the U.K.'s request for a brexit flextension
until the 31st of January 2020.
Flextension the newest word in the Brexit vocabulary. It means that if a deal is ratified before January 31st, Britain can leave early. It doesn't
mean that it must leave on January 31st.
So Britain's very long goodbye is getting even longer and more complicated. CNN's Nick Robertson joins me now from outside parliament.
So I'm sure we'll see more Complicated graphics in U.K. newspapers and a million different scenarios and alternate scenarios from this point on.
But what the prime minister wants is he wants that general election. Will parliamentarians give it to him?
NIC ROBERTSON: And the prime minister already seems to think no already. He's accused the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbin and it really has a
debate underway right now that you can see on the screens or we were looking at just a few minutes ago.
It's essentially a real contest between what Jeremy Corbin says about Boris Johnson and what Boris Johnson says about Jeremy Corbin. Boris Johnson
says Jeremy Corbin is afraid in essence to go forward in elections.
Jeremy Corbin says Boris Johnson can't be trusted, that he said he would deliver do or die a Brexit by the end of this week. That isn't happening.
He says that the government spend a hundred million pounds on advertising, preparing the country to be ready for this Brexit at the end of the week.
It's not happening.
The leader of the opposition said think of all the nurses that could be hired without an --and so on and so on. So to answer your question very
simply, the debate is going to go ahead. It's underway vociferous as ever between those two men.
But the reality, the prime minister won't get the two-thirds. That's certainly his anticipation.
GORANI: Thanks, Nic Robertson. What about the European Union? It's expect to formalize the Brexit flextension in the coming days.
Melissa Bell joins me now from Paris. What does the E.U. want out of this, Melissa?
MELISSA BELL, PARIS CORRESPONDENT: The E.U. now clearly wants this all to come to an end, Hala. That is really the sense amongst Europeans, this
sense that they were fed up with how much time Brexit has taken over the last few months. And hence the flextension, that was really the desire of
countries like France and a couple of other European Union countries that really wanted this to be brought to an end.
So yes, the United Kingdom have until the 31st of January. But if they find a way out before, then they can get out earlier. And I think that was
very important for some of the countries that have just had enough.
So much so that two things happen now. First of all, that extension has to the United Kingdom so that the prime minister can formally accept the
extension. The European capitals are being consulted even now so that the process, the extension can be ratified amongst them.
But this is a written procedure to use the European jargon. There was no desire on the part of European leaders to have to go back to Brussels, once
again, to see this all through. So those are the two things that will happen.
As you say, by tomorrow or Wednesday, we expect that this would have been formally accepted. And then there are from the point of the view of the
E.U. 27, Hala, two possible outcomes and nothing more. Either the United Kingdom finds some way of getting this deal ratified by its parliament or
we have two words of no deal Brexit on the 31st of January.
There is nothing left in between. And beyond this extension they say, there will be nothing else.
GORANI: Melissa Bell, thank you very much. Live in Paris. Let's break this all down.
The European economics correspondent for the New York Times, Peter Goodman, joins me now.
So what should we expect now going forward? Now that the E.U. has given this flextension, Johnson probably won't get his election.
PETER GOODMAN, EUROPEAN ECONOMIC CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. I mean this is the pre-election jockeying part of the Brexit proceedings.
So he's not going to get his election. though it looks like he might then get a deal with the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Liberal Democrats to
get an election that doesn't give them enough time to get his Brexit deal passed but does allow him to go to the polls before Christmas. That's
GORANI: But what impact does this all having on the economy? Because some of the figures I'm -- for instance, the September Service Sector contracted
for the first time since the financial crisis that this was unexpected, employment numbers down 56,000 in the three months until the end of August.
Can we attribute this to Brexit or is it something else?
GOODMAN: Yes, I mean the lack of investment which is hindering job growth is definitely part of Brexit. And the markets had been gyrating depending
upon whether they're worried about a no deal Brexit.
Now, that's off the table. So the markets are now feeling a little more reassured. Business is happy that we're not going to have a crash out
Brexit or suddenly we're going to have trucks, you know, headed into the tunnel not knowing whether they're going to have to be able to clear
The most chaotic scenarios have been taken off the table. So from a business and economic standpoint, that's --
GORANI: It could return though, the --
GOODMAN: It absolutely could because --
GORANI: I mean we're still in limbo, which is the problem, right?
GOODMAN: Very much.
GOODMAN: I mean for the moment, people are focused on the fact that if you were worried about a o deal crash out Brexit on Halloween, that's gone.
But to your point, we're now in a situation where we're going to have some kind of election. We don't know when exactly. And that election may not
Moreover, even if it does resolve this, whenever Brexit itself, the divorce part of it is behind us, then we start negotiating a trade deal between the
European Union and Britain.
Britain sends roughly half of its exports to the European Union. Trade deals are not easy things to negotiate. It's going to take a long time.
There's a lot of complexity.
GORANI: You Culver this as an American here in the U.K. Why, given all these realities, are so many Brits supportive of Brexit when we're seeing
actual numbers now come in that illustrate that it could be damaging to them and to the economy?
GOODMAN: This has never been about economics. This has always been a kind of tribal politics playing out with the charade that it's about economics.
The pro-Brexit crowd has doctored the numbers time and again claiming that once Britain is out of this stalled define straight to the European Union,
they're going to negotiate all these trade deals with the United States, with China, with India. Now, none of that will provide enough growth to
(inaudible) for whatever is undermine in terms of trade with the European Union
But it's really about taking back control. These are hallowed slogans. It's about banning immigration. That part is real.
GOODMAN: And that's a real --
GORANI: Banning free movement of people from the E.U., including Eastern European countries, right?
GOODMAN: Yes, sure, sure.
GORANI: And so -- all right. Well, all that being said then, are we at a stage now where a reversal of Brexit is further away than it was before?
GORANI: Now, we're -- I mean basically you speak to a lot of business leaders, business community, corporate leaders, economists. Are we now
definitely going down the Brexit road here?
GOODMAN: No. I mean nothing is definite. Let's come up with some new ways to say we don't really know what's going to happen.
But I mean the truth is that for most big companies, for multinational companies, Brexit already happened. I mean if you're an American bank and
you've been using London to serve clients across the European Union, you already moved your people to wherever you need to be such that no matter
what happens, assuming the worst, you can still serve clients on the other side of the channel.
And major automakers that were using Britain as a hub to make cars in the U.K. and it's sold them across Europe, they've already made plans to make
cars on the other side of the channel. None of that is coming back.
The investment is likely to be weak no matter what happens. It's still possible that you can have an election where you could end up conceivably
with some sort of coalition government that can decide that another referendum was likely, that referendum could end up revoking Brexit. That
doesn't seem very likely at this moment but it's still a possibility.
GORANI: Right. Thank you very much, Peter Goodman of "The New York Times", as always for joining us.
A key witness for the impeachment inquiry into the American President Donald Trump was a no show on Capitol Hill today. Charles Kupperman is a
former deputy national security advisor and he defied a subpoena refusing to give testimony to House investigators.
Kupperman's lawyer says he's waiting to hear back from a judge on whether he should be forced to testify. Democrats want to hear from Kupperman
because he was listening in on the July phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, says it's telling that the White House is blocking witnesses from appearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think we can infer from the White House opposition to Dr. Kupperman's testimony that they
believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the president. It's also, I think, very plain additional and powerful evidence of obstruction
of Congress in its lawful function by the president that yet again and even after a court decision affirming the right of Congress to proceed with this
impeachment inquiry, the White House has obstructed the work of a coequal branch of government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. We'll have a lot more on the impeachment inquiry later.
To California now. Wind fueled wild fires are raging at both ends of the state threatening homes and causing some mass evacuations. Flames broke
out early today, this morning, in Los Angeles, right outside of Los Angeles, and very upscale neighborhood there.
The Getty fire grew quickly and forced tens of thousands of people to leave. Driving winds have made fighting the Kincade fire in Northern
California almost impossible. Two hundred thousand people are under evacuation orders and utility companies have cut power to almost a million
homes as they try to keep new fires from propping up.
CNN's Dan Simon is in Sonoma County, Wine Country, where the Kincade fire has forced a lot of people to flee. Talk to us about what is going on
around you, Dan.
DAN SIMON, CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Hala. Right now, truly a race against time because the winds have died down. But they are expected to pick up
tomorrow. So firefighters doing everything they can to make progress on this fire.
Right now, it's five percent contained and hopefully that number will go up today. But I want to show you where I am.
This was a winery, a 150-year-old winery and the only thing that's really standing is sort of a brick facade behind me but you can see, it's just
reduced to ash and debris. Really went down in under an hour.
So as you look around the community, you can see burned structures. But really, Hala, what has made this such an extraordinary fire is the impact
that it's having on so many people.
You talked about all the evacuations, about 200,000 people forced to evacuate and about a million or so people or million or so customers have
been without power because PG&E, the utility, they cut power in the area to prevent other wild fires from breaking out.
We should point out that the Kincade fire may have actually been triggered by a PG&E transmission. One went down near where the fire started. And
that is the ultimate nightmare scenario for this company because they are in bankruptcy because of other fires that have been started as a result of
their transmission line.
So that's one thing that we'll continue to look into and we'll find out over the next few days. But in the meantime, again, things are calm today.
So hopefully our fire crews begin turning a corner with this blaze. Hala.
GORANI: All right. Dan Simon in Sonoma County, thanks very much.
Still to come tonight, the man charged in the death of 39 migrants found dead in a truck, appears in court. Where does the investigation stand?
We'll be right back.
GORANI: The driver charged in the death of 39 migrants found dead in a truck container in South Eastern England appeared in court today. Twenty-
five-year-old Maurice Robinson is facing charges including manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.
Robertson hasn't entered a plea yet. He'll remain in custody until his next court appearance. Police say three other people have been arrested
and released on bail.
Well, at the heart of this, of course, is the story of human and tragedy and loss and hope for a better life. Hopes that were dashed. CNN spoke
with two Vietnamese families who hear their children are among the victims. David Culver have their stories.
DAVID CULVER: The faces of this mother and father reflect their exhaustion, despair, and shock. Sharing their painful story with CNN from
their home in Vietnam, holds tight to his cell phone. On the screen, the last text messages received from his 26-year-old daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The latest message let me know she was going to die. She knew a hundred percent she was going to die so she
CULVER: The young woman writing "I'm sorry dad and mom. The way I went overseas was not successful. Mom, I love dad and you so much. I'm dying
because I can't breathe. I'm so sorry, mom."
The family fears she was among the 39 bodies found Wednesday morning in the U.K. British authorities disCulvered the victims, believed to be migrants
inside a shipping container in an industrial park outside of London.
CNN's learned that container was shipped from Belgium on Tuesday night. They've since made multiple arrests and charges ranging from trafficking to
murder. But details surrounding the migrants journey still remain a mystery.
While police in the U.K. initially believed the dead were all Chinese nationals, they now stress they cannot yet confirm the victim's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN PASMORE, DETECTIVE CHIEF INSPECTOR ESSEX POLICE: What we're doing now is trying to appeal to any community that feel they've got loved ones
involved in this incident. And from my point perspective is try to and start building that trust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CULVER: Police do acknowledge they're hearing from many within the Vietnamese community. A Vietnamese government source tells CNN officials
in the same province where Mi's family lives, say at least nine other families have reached out expressing concern that their missing relatives
could have been in the truck.
Wing Dinglo's (ph) father believes his son was among the 39. He got a call from someone in France Thursday night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The caller told me that my son arrived in England and there was an accident. The whole group had died.
CULVER: After the call, he says he collapsed as though he's just been struck by lightning. Those relatives turning to prayer. His journey was
to find a better life. Once like me, her father says she too, left with high hopes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I asked her some information about how she would travel, what transportation. She answered that she was going
by VIP safe route. If I had known she would go by this way, nobody would let their kids go. I would never let her go.
CULVER: Mi's father said it cost the family $40,000. He took photos of one of the payments he made. It's a fortune given the couple makes of $400
Their focus now, getting their daughter back. His wife walks around their humble home in North Central Vietnam seemingly lost. She struggles to sit
down. Leaning on relatives to think. Many families now enduring this agony.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have nothing to lose except for my daughter's body.
CULVER: David Culver, CNN.
GORANI: Lebanon's economic crisis has now been driving protests there for 12 days. There were some remarkable scenes yesterday when nearly 170,000
people formed a human chain across the country in a display of unity.
In an exclusive interview, the head of Lebanon's Central Bank says time is running out saying the country is days away from financial collapse unless
a solution can be found.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIAD SALAME, GOVERNOR, LEBANESE CENTRAL BANK: The more the solution is delayed, the more the cost on the country. Today, there is no economic
activity in the country.
Imports are getting difficult to channel because the banks are close and opening letter of credits. It's more difficult than it was before.
We have international debts to cover. And if we don't cover, we are in a default situation. And on the other hand --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And finally, finally, most of us have relics knocking around our kitchens. Maybe you once had a spiralized or face or perhaps an electric
But most of us, however, don't have a 13th century Italian masterpiece hanging above our stoves that we don't know is a 13th century Italian
masterpiece unless you're the elderly woman in France who actually had it. It was hanging in her kitchen.
She's now seen it sold at an auction for almost $27 million. The painting is called "Christ Mocked." Only one of 11 known works by the artist and
it's said to be in excellent condition.
And I'm sure it's in someone's bank balance, $27 million. It was just hanging there in her kitchen. Lucky that, you know, cooking fumes and such
didn't damage it too much. There you have it.
Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN.
By the way we'll be an hour earlier all week with the time change. But we're back to our regular slot next week.
So after the break, it will be "AMANPOUR." Stay with CNN.