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CONNECT THE WORLD

Pakistani Christian Girl Rimsha Released On Bail; Voters Debate Obama

Aired September 7, 2012 - 16:00   ET

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


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: U.S. President Obama calls on voters to keep the faith, yet just hours later another blow to the economy underscores the tough times ahead.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

RAJPAL: Obama's challenger Mitt Romney described today's jobs figures as the hangover after the party. Tonight, we'll debate which candidate has the cure.

Also this hour, working in a city under siege, the heart wrenching decisions taken by Syria's doctors.

And from a tabloid storm to the heart of battle, we look at the dangers facing Prince Harry's latest adventure.

Job creation in the U.S. is slowing just as the presidential campaign is picking up pace. The U.S. economy added 96,000 jobs last month, that's well below the 120,000 jobs that economists surveyed by CNN Money were looking for. The unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.1 percent, but that's primarily due to people no longer looking for work.

The disappointing numbers are likely to put pressure on President Obama who just last night made his pitch to voters for a second term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy, I never have. You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear, you elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Well, that message is hard to follow -- or swallow, I should say, if you were out of work and struggling to make ends meet. Maggie Lake is at a diner in New York talking to local Americans about the state of the economy.

And Maggie, we heard just not too long ago that President Obama said even the jobs numbers is just not good enough.

All right, we do appear to have lost communications there with -- oh, there she is. Let's go back to Maggie.

Maggie, can you hear us?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can, Monita. Sorry about that. The perils of being live.

You're right, this was a disappointing jobs number. You want to see something in the ballpark of 250,000 to really reinforce the idea the economy is growing robustly and get that unemployment rate down. And we're not getting it.

And the details (inaudible) too. Temporary workers (inaudible). You had manufacturing jobs down. Average (inaudible). You mentioned the fact that the (inaudible)

RAJPAL: All right. We do apologize for interrupting Maggie and to all of you out there watching for the sound quality there. Obviously, we're having some technical issues. And we'll get to that as we can.

Let's move on now and talk about with voters focusing on the economy as the election -- as the election issue. Mitt Romney seized on the lackluster jobs report as he attended a rally in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: After the party last night, the hangover today. The jobs numbers were very disappointing for almost every net new job created approximately four people dropped out of the workforce. Seeing that kind of report is obviously disheartening to the American people who need work and are having a hard time finding work. Real incomes, real wages, are also not rising. This is a tough time for the middle class in America.

There's almost nothing the president has done in the last three-and-a- half, four years that gives the American people confidence he knows what he's doing when it comes to jobs and the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Well, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire today, the U.S. president admitted more had to be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We know it's not good enough. We need to create more jobs faster. We need to fill the hole left by this recession faster. We need to come out of this crisis stronger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Well, both candidates have 60 days to convince voters they have what it takes to create more jobs and kick start the economy again, a recovery which also has global implications.

I'm joined now by Democrat voter living here in the UK Rob Carolina and Emily Walker, a Republican who is living in the Middle East. Thank you both for joining us.

Let me start with you, Rob. And we talk about President Obama's speech there at the convention in North Carolina. And then of course today with the jobs numbers coming up, how much of a blow is this number to him?

ROB CAROLINA, DEMOCRAT VOTER: Well, I'll say one thing, I have to agree with Mitt Romney. This is a hangover after the party, it's just a different party than the one Mitt Romney's talking about. This hangover is a hangover from the Republican Party and their eight years of failed stewardship, failed policies that lead to bank failure, economic failure, and the biggest recession since the Depression, that's what we're trying to dig out from and that's what's caused the hangover.

So are things bad? Well, yes they are. They're getting better, but they're not as good as they should be. And that's what we heard the president say today.

RAJPAL: Emily Walker there for you in the Middle East. And as -- there's been a lot of talk about what Mitt Romney has said and what he hasn't said and what the Republicans haven't laid out in detail what they will do for the economy?

EMILY WALKER, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I'm having a hard time hearing you.

RAJPAL: All right, I'm going to ask you the question again. There's been a lot of talk about what the Republicans, how much they are criticizing what the Democrats are saying about not having specific plan for the economy, but then some are saying neither do the Republicans.

WALKER: Well, I think it's very clear that the promises and the hope of Obama's first term have turned into reality. And right now the economy is obviously at the top of the mind of voters and it's top of mine in what Mitt Romney is talking about. And I think the combination of him with Paul Ryan will -- who has the expertise as well on Capitol Hill, to help break the gridlock, they will come through with a plan that will help bring not only jobs back to the country, but I think it's more important that America has an economic platform for its future. And that is what Romney and Ryan are talking about.

RAJPAL: On that note, I want us to take a listen to what President Obama and Mitt Romney had to say on jobs in their big speeches, let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I cut taxes for those who need it: middle class families, small businesses. But I don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores or pay down our deficit.

ROMNEY: What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound. It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. But America needs is jobs, lots of jobs. In the richest country in the history of the world, this Obama economy has crushed the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: And just to illustrate perhaps a little bit more the unemployment rate in the United States under President Obama, here's a chart there looking at the rate as we look there starting it from 2009, 7.5 percent going back up highest just before 2010 and then down again here as we near toward the end of 2012.

Emily, I want to ask you this question in terms of a lot of people will be saying how realistic is it to expect this current administration to repair what many are saying the damage that was done by eight years of a Republican administration?

WALKER: Obviously they've had four years of a chance. We have not achieved what all of us in the country hoped could have been achieved. So the time has come really to decide whether or not we want to vote to keep that record in place or bring a new opportunity in place to continue the story of improving the economy.

And I think the key difference here is Obama has had four years. We're now looking ahead. Who do we want to lead us? Who is the businessman with pragmatic problem solving experience who can lead us in the future to continue to move our country where it needs to be?

RAJPAL: I want to talk about global implications as well as in terms of who will take office next. Rob, I want to ask you about how important of a decision it is simply because of the idea of competitiveness within the global industry. We're looking at countries like China and India going so far when it comes to education, and of course within the science and technology field. How do you think the United States fares right now?

CAROLINA: Well, the fact of the matter is that we've got more work to do to reform education in America. And that was one of the big themes we heard coming out of the Democratic convention this week. I mean, President Obama has already taken a lot of free market ideas and introduced them into the education, for example, by making school districts around the country compete with each other and compete against set criteria to get federal funding. For some reason people seemed to take their eye off that ball.

The administration has been doing a lot to fulfill those promises. And in those cases where the president has unfettered authority he's been very good at following through with what he says he's going to do. I mean, he said that we were going to get out of Iraq in terms of combat operations and we have. He said we're going to refocus on Afghanistan. We did. He said we were going to draw down in Afghanistan. We have.

Why has he been able to fulfill those promises? Because that's his role as commander-in-chief. He doesn't have to wait for someone like Paul Ryan to lead the Republican dominated congress who have consistently stalled every effort that the administration has put forward to make more jobs available in the United States.

If you want to get the answer for what's going on with the U.S. economy right now ask Paul Ryan why he won't assist the administration in getting through the jobs bill the president has been pushing on.

RAJPAL: I think therein lies the problem. I think a lot of people will be thinking that the president of the United States is probably the most powerful man in the world. Unfortunately, he is handcuffed by what congress is willing to do at this point. So where does the next president go?

CAROLINA: Well, the next president, of course, I believe will be Barack Obama. And I think that he will continue, as he just said in his speech, to do the best he can to work with people across the isle, to work with the Republicans. I just personally wish and I'm sure that our country wishes that the Republicans would be a bit more cooperative.

Unfortunately, for reasons I don't understand, they seem to have adopted a strategy of threatening the economy health of the country, of threatening the livelihoods of American citizens for the soul purpose of trying to reclaim the White House by discrediting the current president.

So it's a challenging moment in American history. But this is why we're out here around the world as Democrats trying to get people -- Americans abroad to register to vote, getting them to places like Votefromabroad.org where they can get their absentee ballots and to continue to participate in our Democracy no matter where in the world they live.

And I'd say to my friend Emily, I hope that she's already got her absentee ballot and she's going to cast it. I know she's a Republican, but I'm encouraging her to vote as well.

RAJPAL: Emily, your response?

WALKER: Totally agree with that for Americans abroad it is critical that they vote in this election, because it is a very, very important time for our country both domestically and internationally. While the economy may be on the forefront, foreign policy is obviously not front and center in the election because of that, however, the 9/11 anniversary is coming up. We know -- I was in the World Trade Center on September 11, that it was a changing moment for our country, that there are significant challenges out there and we need a president like Mitt Romney who can meet those challenges and stand up and lead America both in competitiveness and in foreign policy in the future.

And I think with the congress this election is very important as well. As the American voters know, they are electing both congressmen and senators as well as the president. And that group in a democracy must work together and collaboratively to bring America to the competitiveness and the strength that it needs in the world and in our own country.

RAJPAL: All right.

Emily Walker and Rob Carolina, thank you both so much for joining us here on Connect the World.

You are watching Connect the World live from London. Our top story tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama has admitted the latest U.S. jobs numbers are not good enough a day after urging voters to give him a second term in his address at the Democratic National Convention.

Still to come tonight, chasing every lead, but authorities don't seem any closer to revealing who might have carried out a deadly shooting attack in the French Alps.

Also, British officials say he'll be treated like any other soldier and he's proud to serve. He'll tell you about Prince Harry's new deployment.

And the spectacular documentary shot in 25 countries around the world. We meet the intrepid filmmakers.

All that, and much more, when Connect the World continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal. Authorities in France have officially identified two of the victims from the shooting attack in the Alps. The prosecutor in the case of the man found at the wheel of a car was Saad al-Healey, an Iraqi born naturalized British citizen. His wife, along with another woman and a French cyclist were also found dead.

But two young girls were found at the scene. Earlier, the prosecutor tried to dampen rumors about a family conflict involving al-Healey (ph) and his brother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC MAILLAUD, ANNECY PROSECUTOR (through translator): If I were to learn that my mother had died on television I would be absolutely furious and so he was worried and wants to know did my brother die in France? And then he went back today, because he heard about conflicts between him, his brother, and to say, listen, I do not have a conflict with my brother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Taking a look at some of the other stories connecting our world tonight. Damascus is the scene of intense fighting today in the Syrian civil war. The government claims a motorcycle packed with explosives blew up near a mosque in the capital, killing at least six people. Another explosion went off between the palace of justice and the ministry of information. Opposition forces are reporting 130 deaths across the country. Later, we'll bring you exclusive footage from inside Aleppo where Nick Paton-Walsh spent a week witnessing life on the front line from the disorganized rebels to the lack of resources, forcing hospital staff to make heartbreaking decisions.

Prince Harry is back in Afghanistan. Britain's defense ministry says he arrived Friday for a four month deployment as an Apache helicopter pilot. It is his second tour of duty there. Prince Harry will be stationed in Helmund Province, considered the Taliban heartland. Now base commander says he faces, quote, a difficult and demanding job. We'll have much more on that deployment later on the show.

The United States is ready to blacklist the Haqqani militant network as a terrorist group. The network is based in Pakistan's North Waziristan region and is blamed for deadly attacks on U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will press for the terrorist designation, which would trigger new sanctions. Some officials opposed the move, fearing it would hurt relations with Pakistan.

A judge in Pakistan has granted bail for a Christian girl accused of blasphemy for burning pages of the Koran. 14 year old Rimsha is a step closer to being released from jail after her lawyer argued she'd been framed by a local cleric who planted evidence against her. CNN's Reza Sayah brings us more now from Islamabad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: It took awhile, but Rimsha, the young girl who has been sitting in jail for more than three weeks can finally go to her family. A judge on Friday granting Rimsha bail after some heated arguments between her lawyer and lawyers for the accuser.

Rimsha, of course, a young Christian girl arrested last month after a neighbor said she burned pages of the Koran, a violation of Pakistan's blasphemy laws. All eyes on the hearing on Friday as rights groups supporting Rimsha stood outside the court.

Inside the court, Rimsha's (ph) lawyer telling the judge she's an innocent little girl with a low IQ who was framed by a local cleric who planted evidence against her. The lawyer for the accuser saying Rimsha did destroy parts of the Koran and she deserves to be punished no matter how old she is.

The judge eventually siding with Rimsha's (ph) lawyers, a decision that made her team and rights activists very happy.

ROBINSON ASGHAR, SPOKESMAN FOR RIMSHA' DEFENSE TEAM: Very, very happy. We are excited, because we know that the case has been decided on merit. You know it was highly contested by the other party...

SAYAH: Rimsha's bail was set at about $10,000 that will be paid by a rights group. Her case is still pending and the lawyers representing the accuser still seem determined to see her charged. But their case was undermined last week when a local cleric was a arrested and accused of planting burned pages of the Koran in a bag Rimsha was carrying. That case is now pending too.

Meantime, there's a lot going on behind the scenes. There's a lot of pressure coming from rights groups for this case to be dropped. Then you have the government and the court system that are concerned about a backlash. There's also concern about Rimsha's safety, although the government says she along with her family will be provided security as this case unfolds.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Unions and the German airline Luftansa have made a breakthrough ending a run of strikes in the past week. The airline's chief executive has agreed to a key union demand to immediately stop hiring external cabin crew. Friday's stop work action was the third strike in eight days, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights. Both sides have agreed to further talks next week.

We're taking a short break here on Connect the World, but still to come the women's U.S. semifinals are center stage at the U.S. Open right now. We'll bring you the latest from New York next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: It is women's semifinal day at the U.S. tennis open at New York. And the first of the two matches is living up to the hype. Mark McKay joins us now from CNN Center for the very latest on that -- Mark.

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Monita.

Yeah, three of the four players who are in the semifinal round at the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows have already won grand slam titles this year. It is certainly making for a star studded Friday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.

One of the semifinal matches already underway. And as you said, it is certainly living up to the billing. It is against Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. Sharapova, of course, coming through and winning the French Open title to complete her first career grand slam. Victoria Azarenka prevailed on the hard courts of Melbourne to win her first grand slam title, the Australian Open. The Russian claimed the U.S. Open in 2006. It appeared that Sharapova wanted to make quick work of the Belarussian as Sharapova came out, won the first set 6-3, but as we look live at what's going on now at Arthur Ashe stadium we see Azarenka has come back to win the second set. And they have just started the third. That is where both of these players have been very successful this year. In fact, neither player has lost a three set match. Something has to give today at Flushing Meadows.

And still to come, a meeting between Wimbledon champ and London Olympic Games gold medals Serena Williams and Italy's Sara Errani. That, of course, a meeting in the Saturday title match, that is what is on the line for those two players.

Some great tennis going on in New York at this hour, Monita.

RAJPAL: Yeah, very exciting. Getting goosebumps when it comes to talking about tennis and the finals as well.

But we've been featuring quite a few Paralympians here on CNN. A couple of them that we featured are celebrating tonight. Who won gold, Mark?

MCKAY: Well, maybe our colleague Erin MacLaughlin rubbed off a little luck on these players, because she was able to catch up with both brilliant preview pieces going into their individual competitions. I'll tell you what, Dutch star Esther Vergeer, she has been anything but lucky during the course of her illustrious Paralympic Games career. Competing in wheelchair tennis, Vergeer did it again, winning Paralympic gold for the fourth straight games, stretching her unbeaten run in the games to 470 matches. You heard me correctly, 470 matches she has won in a row on Friday in London. She topped compatriot (inaudible) 6-0, 6-3. This one lasted only 59 minutes. Vergeer, who won her first Paralympic singles gold in Sydney 12 years ago described her latest victory as amazing and a huge relief considering all the weight coming into the games.

And the other success story, chronicled by CNN's Erin MacLaughlin and playing out Friday at the London Paralympic games involved U.S. swimmer Brad Snyder. Exactly one year to the day that he lost his sight in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, Snyder won men's 400 meter's freestyle gold in the S11 class at the aquatic center. He said the crowd was so emotional it helped him pull it through.

We will see you for World Sport, much more on these stories and more in just over an hour -- Monita.

RAJPAL: We look forward to that, Mark. Thank you very much.

Still to come here on Connect the World, Nick Paton-Walsh takes us inside a hospital in Syria's besieged city of Aleppo where government doctors work in secret to frantically save lives.

Also ahead, Prince Harry is called to duty in Afghanistan again. We'll bring you a live report from Kabul.

And no words, just pictures. We take a look at the film being described as a cinematic wonder.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: A warm welcome to those of you watching us from Europe and around the world. Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal, and these are the very latest world headlines from CNN.

US president Barack Obama says more has to be done to create jobs after a disappointing labor report. 96,000 jobs were added to US payrolls in August, significantly lower than analysts expected. Mr. Obama was speaking today after urging voters to give him a second term during his address at the Democratic National Convention.

The Syrian capital is where the country's bloody battle for control is playing out today. State TV reports six people were killed when a motorcycle packed with explosives blew up near a mosque in Damascus. Another explosion, said to be a car bomb, went off between the Palace of Justice and the Ministry of Information. Opposition forces say at least 130 people have been killed today nationwide.

French authorities have officially identified two of the victims from the shooting attack in the Alps. The man found at the wheel of a car was Saad al-Hilli, an Iraqi-born, naturalized British citizens. His wife was also killed, along with another woman in the car, and a French cyclist named Sylvain Mollier.

Prince Harry is back in Afghanistan for his second tour of duty. Britain's Defense Ministry says he arrived Friday for a four-month deployment as an Apache helicopter pilot. He'll be based in Helmand province.

Tonight, we bring you the last in a series from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Syria. He spent a week in the city of Aleppo, where he and his team saw firsthand the desperation of people living in a city under siege.

In just a moment, we'll hear from Nick about his experiences, but first, he sent us this report from one of the city's hospitals, where he discovered the heart-wrenching decisions staff are forced to make every day. We do warn you that this report from Nick contains graphic images that some of you may find disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BABY CRYING)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dar al-Shifa Hospital is where many in Aleppo run when they're caught by the constant shelling.

(EXPLOSIONS)

WALSH: Even though the hospital and the area around it have also been fired upon.

WALSH (on camera): The shells hit this part of the hospital, but still, this day, we see many civilians flood in here for treatment, some of them very young. Doctors telling us that children's hospital has been closed by the government.

(BABY CRYING)

WALSH (voice-over): Some terrified. Some starving.

(BABY CRYING, WOMAN TALKING IN ARABIC)

WALSH: Mohammed, aged eight, was hit by shrapnel fired from Syrian regime mortars. He is quiet, brave. But this hospital isn't equipped for the surgery he needs. His thigh bone is shattered. So, the doctors have no choice but to exacerbate his ordeal and send him across the front lines to the government hospital hoping, perversely, that those who hurt him can also heal him.

President Bashar al-Assad is history in the minds of locals, but his regime still has the best hospital, where one doctor works during the day before sneaking here to help this rebel hospital in the evening.

He tells me, haunting even his voice, hidden within the regime hospitals, 50 soldiers are brought in every day, but sometimes doctors mercy kill by injection those they can't treat effectively. But if they found he was working in the rebel hospital, they'd kill him.

Ahmed's head has been hit by shrapnel from shelling, his ear almost blown off. They struggle to clean the wound and to find enough anesthetic. At any point, the power could cut.

Still, the doctors carry on.

(CHILD SPEAKING ARABIC)

WALSH: "It hurts!" he cries. But he's yet to learn the worst about what the shelling did.

(MEN SHOUTING)

WALSH: It killed his father, who's mourned just outside the hospital. The dead here, so many the doctors must leave him on the street. His brother arrives. There's no room for privacy or dignity here.

They remove the body before Ahmed can learn what happened. The blood remains on the street, unnoticed by some, the people of Aleppo numb, looking to the skies, checking what next may befall them.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Aleppo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Just a short while ago, I spoke to Nick about what he experienced in Aleppo and asked him what it was like to spend time with these civilians living under siege. Again, we do warn you, some of the pictures you're about to see are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: To be honest, just living amongst civilians in Aleppo is itself very challenging for us. Over five days, you experience this constant fear of jet airstrikes, shelling, mortars, things you can't really legislate your own safety with.

But it's not really about us at all, frankly. It's about these civilians who've been living through this for over a month, now. Millions of people in this city held, in a way, hostage, besieged by these -- the shelling and, of course, as we saw in one case, a seemingly random act of violence in which a sniper fired through a window into a residential clan.

I should warn you, this report does contain some very distressing images of an injured child.

WALSH (voice-over): On Aleppo's streets, a truck races through traffic. We follow them because we've seen a man leap inside, carrying a limp little girl in his arms. But, perhaps because our car is new, he now rushes towards us for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nowhere to take her.

WALSH: Rena (ph) is four.

(MAN SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's gaining! He's coming! Quick! Quick! Jump in! Jump in!

WALSH: "Go to the hospital!" he says. "Guys, she's choking!"

(HORN HONKS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened?

WALSH: "She was on the balcony at home when a bullet struck from nowhere," he explains. "She's struggling to breathe." A bullet has hit her cheek.

WALSH (on camera): The difficult thing here is to divine any kind of pattern to the violence inflicted on civilians. It seems to be deliberately indiscriminate, and that seems to be why Rena was shot, not deliberately, but they targeted her flat, shooting through that window, Monita.

RAJPAL: And Nick, talk to us a little about your time with the rebel fighters.

WALSH: Well, the unit we spent four days with, I don't know how typical they are of the rebel movement as a whole, but certainly they seemed to be similar to other units we bumped into as well.

The majority of them young, I would say aged between about 17 and 25. Syrian, religious, some of them, but not radical, and lacking, really, more importantly, in any military training. They didn't really know how to handle their weapons a lot of the time safely.

There are older men amongst them who are trying to instill discipline, cohesion, develop kind of -- a kind of tactics, but the major problem here is communication. Cell phone networks down for days at a time. They only way they can talk between units through walkie-talkies that can easily be eavesdropped upon by the regime.

So, hard for these disparate groups around the city to coordinate tactics between them, and then hard for them -- because as I say, this lack of discipline and training -- for them to effectively take on a Syrian regime which are a professional army, heavily and well-equipped by the Russian government, dug into key positions around the city, Monita, as we saw.

(GUNFIRE)

WALSH (voice-over): We're with rebel forces as they push into vital terrain in the fight for Syria's commercial capital towards a key police station.

(GUNFIRE)

WALSH: They mass in number and surge forward.

(MEN SHOUTING IN ARABIC)

WALSH: Chaos, but also bravery.

WALSH (on camera): So, that is the key challenge for the months ahead. As I say, we see this rebel unit, which it doesn't have the military might and the weapons to take on the Syrian government, trying to inch around these various streets.

But at the end of the day, facing an enemy which is so significantly better equipped than them, the chance of an overwhelming military victory seems pretty slim. Monita?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Nick Paton Walsh, there. And do join us this weekend for a CNN special as Nick takes us inside Aleppo, exposing the stark reality of day-to-day life in the besieged Syrian city. That's Saturday -- Saturday night at 9:30 here in London, 10:30 for you in Berlin, right here on CNN.

Still to come tonight, from a scandalous stay in Vegas to a dusty battlefield in Taliban country, we'll bring you a full report on Prince Harry's new assignment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Prince Harry is back in the headlines, but this time he's far removed from the scandalous parties that raised eyebrows around the world. Britain's third in line to the throne is now on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. Max Foster has more on what's being called a difficult and demanding job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every good soldier holds out for active service, and a palace source has told me that Prince Harry is honored to represent his country, and he feels both pride and anticipation as he deploys for a job he's trained for for so long.

During the next four months, Captain Wales, as he's known in the army, will take charge of the weaponry onboard a deadly Apache helicopter. He'll be involved in surveillance missions, deterrence, and close combat as necessary. It's an important and dangerous role.

JOCK GORDON, CAPTAIN, COMMANDER, JOING AVIATION GROUP: When working together with his colleagues in the squadron, he'll be in a difficult and demanding job, and I ask that he be left to get on with his duties and allowed to focus on delivering support to the coalition troops on the ground.

(GUNFIRE)

FOSTER: This isn't the first time Harry has been called to duty in Afghanistan. He last served in 2008, but had to be pulled out when the news leaked. This time, there was no media blackout, but the British Ministry of Defense says they will constantly assess the risks of his deployment.

Harry is now an Apache helicopter pilot, and palace sources say that in this role, he'll be largely anonymous, so he won't be putting his crew at additional risk. He also won't need personal security.

There's a tradition, now, of royals flying helicopters for the military. Harry's brother, William, is a pilot in the Royal Air Force, and his uncle, Prince Andrew, served during the Falklands War. During his training in the United States, Harry showed exceptional skill, though, and came out top of his class.

Harry will be treated like any other soldier. He's been assigned a shipping container to sleep in at the Camp Bastion base, and there won't be the social facilities he's famous for frequenting. His recent party weekend in Las Vegas was the last break before deployment. Perhaps those naked pictures will now be seen as Harry letting his hair down before reporting for duty in Afghanistan.

Max Foster, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Well, dangers facing coalition troops like Prince Harry include the threat of attack by supposedly friendly forces. In fact, it's become such a problem that US Special Operations Forces have suspended the training of some Afghan police recruits while they run background checks on the current police force.

They are taking extra precautions after a rise in attacks on NATO troops by Afghans, police, or soldiers. These so-called green-on-blue attacks have killed 45 people this year alone.

For more on the security threats to coalition troops in Afghanistan, we want to bring in Anna Coren, live tonight in Kabul. Anna, thanks for being with us.

It's -- the fact that Prince Harry's there certainly underscores the fact that the war in Afghanistan is far from over.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Monita. It is now in its 11th year and it's about to enter its 12th year. This war is far from over, tragically.

But you mentioned the security situation, and it is bad. There is an uptick in violence, I have to say, whether it be in suicide bombings, IEDs, attacks on coalition forces, or attacks on Afghan civilians, we are seeing more of them.

You mentioned those green-on-blue attacks, Afghan soldiers turning on coalition forces who are training them, 45 deaths so far this year, 35 last year. So, we are seeing an increase.

Now, US forces will tell you that 25 percent of those attacks are the result of the Taliban. The rest are personal grievances, cultural differences, or just the psychological impact of war.

But nevertheless, Monita, the Taliban certainly infiltrated parts of this country it has never inhabited before. Certainly, its heartland is in the south, and that of course is where Prince Harry is in Helmand province.

And obviously, they also inhabit the east of the country, but now their tentacles are felt right across the country and, of course, that is the major concern.

RAJPAL: I want to ask you, Anna, about the Haqqani Network. There is talk, of course, today about the US listing the Haqqani Network as amongst the terrorist organizations. How widespread is this network?

COREN: Yes, the Haqqani network is a major problem here in Afghanistan. As we know, they are based in Pakistan, in North Waziristan, and they come across the border and wage their attacks.

As you say, the US government today designated the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization. That announcement was made by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Now, the US has long labeled the Haqqani Network as the major threat to US forces here in Afghanistan. They're responsible for the attacks on the embassy and also military bases.

But there has been debate. They say that this debate has been going on for some two years as to how to handle the Haqqani Network. There's been people within the Obama administration who believe that this designation could affect relations between Afghanistan or, certainly I should say, United States and Pakistan, but also affect the peace talks here in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

So, that was the concern against making the Haqqani a terrorist organization, but for military commanders here on the ground, including General John Allen, who is of course the commander of both NATO and US forces here, he believed it was a top priority. So, he is certainly happy with that news.

Now, we get a response, Monita, from the Haqqani Network, and they have said that this shows that the US is not serious about peace efforts here in Afghanistan.

RAJPAL: All right, Anna, thank you for that. Anna Coren, live for us, there, from Kabul.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, across five continents and 25 countries, the film that is being described as a visual feast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Welcome back. It's been 20 years since the film "Baraka" hit the big screen, winning acclaim for its spectacular imagery of life around the world. Well, the filmmakers are back with another feast for the senses.

Like "Baraka," their new film, "Samsara," is devoid of dialogue and relies entirely on pictures to tell the story. Fred Pleitgen caught up with Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, who spent five years capturing the weird and wondrous in 25 different countries.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON FRICKE, DIRECTOR, "SAMSARA": Well, it's a Buddhist Sanskrit word which means "the wheel of life."

This film is based on a -- what we call a guided meditation. And -- on the themes of birth, death, and rebirth. And so, "Samsara" is about that theme, the impermanence of things.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's obviously no dialogue or no words in it. How -- how are audience supposed to take all of this in? Because it does leave a lot of room for interpretation, doesn't it, as you watch it?

FRICKE: Well, that's the idea. It's a guided meditation. It's about the flow. Really, the flow is about how things are interconnected.

MARK MAGIDSON, PRODUCER, "SAMSARA": And we're trying to stay away from a -- kind of a manifesto or a point of -- a strong point of view. We're guiding it, as Ron said, but we're also trying to leave space.

We're trying to leave space in just the way the imagery is interpreted, the way the music is chosen, kind of spacious in nature, so that the viewer can bring something of their own reality to the experience.

PLEITGEN: But you shot this in five years, and you say it's a guided meditation. How did you go about choosing the locations? Because there must have been some strategy behind it. Was there -- was it more a jigsaw puzzle sort of thing, or was it sort of a --

FRICKE: A little bit of both. It's a little bit of both. We had researchers working and friends scouring the internet. YouTube. But we had a main concept laid out, and it was based on this sand painting. And we knew it was going to open and close the film.

They were going to create this mandala, this beautiful work of art. And at the end of the film, we're going to just wipe it away. And once we had that in place, we knew we had the structure of the film solid. Because it's really hard to open and close a film. Any film, especially one without actors or dialogue.

MAGIDSON: You're trying to find imagery that rises to a level of visual interest that it can -- appeal to an audience that's seen a lot, and that's one of the real challenges of this kind of filmmaking is locating that kind of imagery. Because everybody's been exposed to a lot of amazing visual imagery, and that's the high bar that it -- and that's why it takes -- took us so long to gather that imagery.

FRICKE: When we started this four, five years ago, digital disc wasn't ready for the road, and so our capture medium was on 65 millimeter film. So, that's why it's different in that the images are pristine.

PLEITGEN: It's been 20 years since "Baraka," which of course was -- made a huge splash. How is this different? Were there similarities to that?

FRICKE: The internet has just blown open a way to resource the world and locations. So -- it's a bigger, better film. And we were a little more fearless this time. We'd been through it, so we knew what we were up against.

PLEITGEN: How did you yourselves grow during this process as well? Because it's five years of your life, it's a lot of hard work, it's going to a lot of hard places, and it's also meeting some very unique people, isn't it?

FRICKE: What's nice is to see how everyone is just -- everyone's been invited here to this planet. You get the sense that we're all really connected.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Fred Pleitgen, there, speaking to the filmmakers of their new film, "Samsara."

You just saw some stunning imagery from all over our world, so in tonight's Parting Shots, we thought we'd share some amazing video that is quite literally out of this world. NASA just released these breathtaking pictures of a colossal solar storm.

Watch this eruption of super-hot plasma off the surface of the sun. It's called a solar filament, and the storm was captured by cameras aboard NASA's solar observatory spacecraft. Absolutely amazing that we can actually watch this sort of activity occurring on our nearest star. It didn't cause any problems for planet Earth, just some beautiful auroras.

With that, I'm Monita Rajpal and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. The world headlines are next right here on CNN.

END