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Syrian Mortars Kill 5 In Turkish Border Town, Turkey Responds; American Ex-Pats Talk About Tonight's U.S. Presidential Debate

Aired October 3, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: I'm Becky Anderson in London. We begin tonight's show with breaking news in tensions along the border between Syria and Turkey, they are on a knife edge this hour after Ankara confirmed it struck targets in Syria.

Now the Turkish prime minister has released a statement saying the action was in retaliation to a deadly mortar strike on a Turkish border town. The mayor of the town says at least five people, including three kids, were killed by a shell fired from Syria.

NATO's most senior political governing body is convening an urgent meeting in the next few hours over this situation.

In a moment we're going to speak live to Nick Paton-Walsh who is monitoring events from Beirut in Lebanon. And Richard Roth is keeping track of reaction there at the UN.

First, though, Ivan Watson joins us on the line from Istanbul. What do we know at this point, the details?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't have a lot of details except for the fact that the Turkish government announced it fired artillery, that it targeted points inside Syria using radar and that this was in retaliation again for that deadly mortar strike earlier this afternoon which killed five Turkish civilians in the border town of Akshakale (ph) and wounded at least nine more.

We don't know how prolonged the Turkish artillery strikes were and how many targets were struck. It could be that this was just a brief show of force. That's all speculation right now. What is clear is that that border town had repeatedly cut very close to Syrian artillery fire over the course of the last two weeks. The Turkish foreign minister launched a formal complaint with the UN last week when it was hit by mortar fire which did not hurt anybody. The locals had gone so far as to even shut their schools temporarily to protect residents there, because Syrian artillery was raining down within meters of the border fences that the town is directly up against. And now the Turkish government is under considerable domestic pressure to respond somehow to the deaths of five of its citizens.

ANDERSON: Well, it's being reported the foreign minister has already contacted the UN secretary-general. We know there's been contact with NATO. And we know that the UN is convening an urgent meeting at this point.

You've been covering the crisis in Syria, the civil war in Syria and the situation on the border there in Turkey for many, many months now. Just how significant would you say this is?

WATSON: Well, we haven't seen a deadly cross border incident like this yet on the ground. And we have to add, Becky, that NATO, the military alliance, is holding urgent talks to discuss this as we speak right now, just showing you the seriousness of this.

But it's important to note, last June the Syrian anti-aircraft defenses shot down a Turkish military reconnaissance jet killing two pilots. And at that point, the Turkish government promised to respond, that it would not stand for any type of provocation, it promised to change its rules of engagement. Perhaps the artillery strikes that came from Turkey in response to these deadly Syrian mortar strikes, perhaps that is an example of the change of these rules of engagement.

But it's important to note we did not see hostilities erupt after the Syrians shot down a Turkish military jet just a few months ago.

ANDERSON: We're going to leave it there, Ivan. Stay with us. Do some work and come back to us when you've got more. That's Ivan Watson in Turkey.

Nick Paton-Walsh joining us now from neighboring Lebanon with the very latest. And as we speak, I'm hearing certainly reports that NATO meeting has already begun. We're going to get to the UN live for Richard Roth shortly to find out what's going on there. But your response to what we are hearing given your covering of this story over the past months. Your assessment of the situation?

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly highly significant to see Turkish military action on this particular point. I should point out that this NATO meeting happening right now is on something called Article 4, which is when a NATO member feels its territorial sovereignty is under threat and calls consultations.

So a similar meeting was requested after the June downing of a jet that Ivan referred to. Obviously wait to see what the results of that will be. But it is of course highly significant today to see this exchange of fire across the border, many wondering quite where this leads, whether it is some sort of a game changer, although many doubting that the Turkish government really want to see themselves involved in anything more complex in terms of a military engagement here.

So it could well simply be just what some commentators are referring to as a retaliative punishment strike, so to speak, to try and draw a further line in the sand and make sure today's shelling of Akshakale (ph) doesn't actually occur again, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nick, let's just remind our viewers who may just be joining us that the news this hour, Turkey striking targets in Syria in response to a mortar strike across the border that killed five people in a Turkish border town.

We have heard these reports that Turkey's deputy prime minister has said, and I quote here, "Syria must be made to account for the incident and there must be a response under international law." You've just been referring to the NATO charter there, but also added that you thought that perhaps Turkey wasn't willing or wouldn't want to at this stage get involved any further.

This could be out of Turkey's hands, of course, if NATO takes it on.

PATON-WALSH: Possibly, although I'd be very surprised to see at this NATO meeting all NATO members deciding they wanted to be involved in a broader situation here on the Turkish-Syrian border. Most of the key players stayed very clear of this.

Remember right tonight is the presidential debate in which President Obama has been pretty clear over the past few months he doesn't want the White House dragged in at this stage until certainly the election is out of the way if not for a longer time since then. So I'd be surprised to see this meeting come out with anything more than a show of support, but certainly today's exchange of fire takes this to a different level and I'm sure there will be many Syrian rebels wondering what this might mean for their ability to move across the border, their ability to operate in northern Syria and certainly whether this might see them receiving that long awaited military support they've always wanted from the outside but have so far, in their opinion, failed to receive, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nick Paton-Walsh on the story for you this hour. Nick, thank you for that. Back to you later. We're going to get reaction now from the international community. Let's bring in our senior international UN correspondent Richard Roth who joins us out of the New York bureau tonight. What are you hearing, Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, when you're talking about country A attacking country B and vice versa, that's the wheelhouse of the United Nations for the last 60 odd years. However, once again, as our other correspondents have pointed out there's not going to be any rush to war certainly at the UN where diplomacy is king. And what we've seen happen is Turkey requesting a meeting with the security council president and there appears to be a letter that Turkey is circulating to Security Council members.

But as we know, this is a divided Security Council when it comes to Syria for 18 months. And any type of statement, even, from the Security Council, that's not going to be an easy push through for Turkey no matter what the language, because of China and Russia supporting the Assad government.

The secretary-general of the UN did receive a phone call from Turkey's foreign minister and he tried to expand in his reaction of condolences, Ban Ki-moon saying this action demonstrates, quote, "Syria's conflict is threatening not only the security of the Syrian people, but increasingly harm to its neighbors." Ban Ki-moon calling on Syria's government to respect the territorial integrity of its neighbors as well as trying to end the violence against its own people - Becky.

ANDERSON: Richard Roth at - or close by the UN out of the New York bureau this evening. Our senior UN correspondent there. Richard, thank you for the time-being.

Let's get right to CNN Center and senior international correspondent Nic Robertson who again stresses being in and out of Syria over the past 18 months as this civil war has got worse. What do you make of this hour's developments Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're very serious, Becky. We've seen shells fall across the border in Jordan. The Syrian ambassador to Jordan hold in for addressing down by Jordanian authorities, shells come across the border into Lebanon in the past. The downing of a Turkish jet by Syrian fire. We've seen shells fall across the border into Turkey before as well. Now this.

Turkey's prime minister is in a difficult political position. He has elections that he needs to win. He has a population that's not happy on the stance that he's taken so quickly and so strongly against President Assad in Syria. So he really needs to be seen to be doing something to keep the population in part on his side, but it's also going to work against him.

The real question is how does he push this offensive? How many strikes does he make? And what most significantly will be Syria's reaction to it, which is perhaps where NATO comes in. We won't expect to see NATO tanks rolling down the streets into Turkey to help Turkey, Turkey has got a very big, very strong, very professional, very capable army of its own. But what they will want to know is that they have NATO at their backs if President Assad chooses to escalate this return of fire by Turkey.

So this is a very, very significant development. I suspect that it will be an overnight blip, but if everything that we've seen so far in the past 18 months is a steady escalation. And the next time we can expect it to be worse.

ANDERSON: Nick, thank you. Always a pleasure out of CNN Center in the States for you this evening. Nic Robertson.

We're going to take a very short break here on Connect the World. When we come back, from Egypt to Georgia and Spain, American ex-pats around the world are going to tell us what they want to hear from tonight's U.S. presidential debate. That, of course, is just hours from now. We're going to take a look at what to expect after this.


ANDERSON: Well, as you would imagine here on CNN, we keep you bang up to date on the news of the hour. And just coming into us here at CNN Center, confirmation that NATO has begun an emergency meeting after Turkey confirmed it had struck targets in Syria in response to a mortar strike across the border Wednesday that killed five people in a Turkish border town.

A statement from the prime minister's office here said, "we have responded to the attack. Points in Syria have been hit by artillery fire."

We do know that NATO, as I say, is meeting as we speak. And we'll bring you more on that as and when we get it. We're covering this all over the region and out of New York where the UN is also talking.

Well, the pressure is on. Just over four hours from now, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will go head to head in their very first televised debate, the first of three of course before America decides who they want as their new president.

Well, when the two men met on stage, or when they meet on stage, sorry, just hours from now it will be only the fourth time that they've ever seen each other in person.

CNN's political director Mark Preston goes behind the scenes for you now to give us a taste of what we can expect later tonight.


MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: So you might be wondering, who's actually going to be sitting in the audience tonight for this first presidential debate. I don't know the answer, but Peter Eyre with the Commission on Presidential debates does.

PETER EYRE, COMM. ON PRES. DEBATE SPOKESMAN: So on Wednesday night at the University of Denver, we'll have students, VIPs, and those that the campaigns have invited. They'll be on floor and then some up on the balcony behind us.

PRESTON: So how do you get invited to this debate if you don't get an invitation from one of the candidates?

EYRE: It would be very difficult to get into the debate.

PRESTON: Who is going to be at that far podium?

EYRE: So at the far podium will be Governor Romney, and then at the near podium will be President Obama.

PRESTON: And how is it going to work? Who is going to get the first question?

EYRE: So Mr. Lehrer will direct the first question to President Obama. He'll have two minutes to respond and then Governor Romney will have two minutes to respond to that same question.

PRESTON: How is this all going to work in this 90-minute debate format?

EYRE: So we think having these six segments will really encourage detailed discussion about these topics, and Mr. Lehrer will try to facilitate an in depth discussion that is substantive and really focuses on the details.

PRESTON: And if you're wondering where I'm going to be tonight, well, I'm sitting in my seat right here. We're in the press filing center where hundreds of journalists are going to be here tonight reporting on the debate.

As you can see, there are TV monitors set up all across this place. And in a sign of the times, it looks like Mitt Romney here has his own TV studio set up, probably a place where they can put guests out to do interviews with local television stations or across the country. It's also a place where they're going to be watching the debate. Not to be outdone, right here behind the red curtain, it looks like Barack Obama has the same kind of setup.

And, of course, these two studios butt up against what we call the spin room. Spin room is where we're going to see surrogates and some of the top campaign officials that are going to come after the debate and they're going to try to tell us why they think their candidate won.


ANDERSON: Well, as part of our special coverage of the U.S. elections we'll be connecting with Americans all over the world for what will be a unique perspective of Americans living abroad. We're going to be asking what they want to hear from the candidates and what's most important to them before they case their ballot.

Well, tonight we're joined by John Hackett in Egypt, Kristin Cole in Spain, and Father Doug May in Georgia.

I spoke to them earlier. And starting off by reminding them where both candidates stand on that oh so crucial issue of the economy.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. It'll require common effort and shared responsibility.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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. What America needs is jobs, lots of jobs.

ANDERSON: Has either candidate convinced you, Jonathan, that he has the answer to fixing the economy yet?

JONATHAN HACKETT, TEACHER, FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Neither of these candidates really speak to me with the changes that I would like to see.

ANDERSON: Kristin, has either candidate convinced you he has the answer to fixing the economy's woes?

KRISTINE COLE, STUDENT, FROM TEXAS: Unfortunately no. In their defense, I mean, given the time constraints it was a small clip, but for example from Romney I'd like to know how he plans to create these jobs. And then as for Obama, in my opinion, how can you prove that the plans you have in place right now are actually going to have an effect over the next four years.

ANDERSON: What's the one thing you want to hear on the economy from both of these candidates?

FATHER DOUG MAY, PRIEST, FRM. BUSINESSMAN, FROM BUFFALO: When Obama says, you know, we're going to tell you the truth I would love to hear the truth from both of them when it comes to both the economy and when it comes to foreign policy.

ANDERSON: All right. We've been told by the Romney campaign all of you to watch for the zinger, or the zingers tonight. And there's no doubt that in past debates that one line that takes their opponent apart has played a big role. Have a listen.

GERALD FORD: There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.

RONALD REAGAN: And I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.

LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

ANDERSON: We all remember those.

Any of you banking on either one of these guys pulling off that ultimate campaign sinking moment tonight? Father Doug?

MAY: The zingers? I actually don't find it necessarily beneficial, but I've been known to use a few zingers myself when it comes to speaking in public, so - but I can add a few zingers to both politicians that are running for presidency right now. And basically say you're both in the dark when it comes to certain realities when it comes to the Middle East. So, you know, I could zing them both myself if I wanted to.

ANDERSON: You expecting any fireworks, Kristin, so far as these zingers are concerned tonight?

COLE: I'm really hoping for them, to be honest. This is the first presidential debate I've really paid attention to. I'm only 20, so I mean, just for the fact is the fact is it make it interesting. Yes, I hope so.

ANDERSON: Jonathan?

HACKETT: Yeah, I do hope to hear at least one or two zingers from each candidate. I don't think any are going to be the end for the other's campaign, but it will keep (inaudible)

ANDERSON: I wonder to all of you, composure and style during these debates: overrated, or a debate grader? Jonathan?

HACKETT: Historically, I believe it was the Nixon-Kennedy debate. Kennedy won if you watched it on TV, Nixon won if you listened to it on the radio. Nobody is listening to this debate on the radio anymore, so composure is going to play a big part.

ANDERSON: Do you agree Kristin?

COLE: Oh, completely. Unfortunately, this is what my fellow students here in Madrid and I have been talking about a lot and that unfortunately too much weight is put on how they dress, how they act, things like that whenever I wish there would be more of a, you know, under - I wish they would under - I wish they wouldn't care so much about what they do, what they wear, how they speak and focus more on what it is they're actually saying.

ANDERSON: We saw the old sighing from Al Gore back, way back when. And Doug, does it matter to you? Does that put you off Mr. Al Gore during the presidential debates of the past?

MAY: Well, again, I didn't remember watching the Nixon-Kennedy debate back in 1960 I guess it was, but the big thing here is the old expression, you can't judge a book by its cover and the content is most important. But let's face it, we're selling the presidency these days. And this is a marketing campaign. And if you're going to sell a product, you have to basically make the label cute.

ANDERSON: There's going to be 50 million odd people watching these debates in the U.S., another 150 million or more watching around the world. Your host tonight will be Jim Lehrer. I give you guys the floor and the microphone at this point, what's the one question if you were hosting this debate tonight that you would ask the president.

Keep it short.

HACKETT: My question to the candidate is what are your views on the current state of American democracy?


MAY: I think I'd drop back in the face of the American people and say what is your definition of what patriotism is versus nationalism. I'm hearing an awful lot about nationalism and hearing very little about patriotism, because a true patriot basically is willing to sacrifice both economically, physically and otherwise for the benefit of the country and the common good.

ANDERSON: That's to both candidates?

Kristin, the final word to you. Your question?

COLE: For me, my question that I've been thinking about since seventh grade, how do you plan to deal with the fact there's simply not enough money in the system to provide Social Security for all the Baby Boomers and then my generation the Millenials?

ANDERSON: I want all of you to either blog or tweet those questions tonight. We will as well. And let's talk again after the debate and find out whether any of what we've talked about tonight got answered. We look forward to speaking to you once again before the next debate later in the month.

Guys, thank you very much indeed.

And don't forget CNN, of course, is your destination for full coverage of all of the debates. We're live in Colorado for tonight's head to head battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Stay up with us and watch it live starting early Thursday, one in the morning London. You can work out the times out locally for yourselves. And if you miss that, you can see a replay of the full debate Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. London, this time in London, in fact 10:00 in Berlin right here on CNN.

We're going to take a very short break. When we come back, Milan has been under a great deal of pressure to start the season, we're talking football here. Could a Champion's League trip to St. Petersburg be just what they doctor ordered. We'll have that and the very latest out of Syria and Turkey up next.


ANDERSON: Well, the second round of Champion's League matches wrapping up across Europe as we speak. And for some of the top teams it is, well, a chance at redemption for opening match disappointment.

Don Riddell at CNN Center for us. Who, then, is redeeming themselves tonight, Don?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, no one, really, Becky. The group of death is really panning out to be the group of death for Ajax and Manchester City. Let's take you to the latest from Group D at the moment. This is a very, very tough group, Becky, every team in this group is a domestic champion. With about 10 minutes to go Borussia Dortmund are beating Manchester City. And City's Jack Rodwell really shot he and his team in the foot in that game. A very wayward pass was intercepted by Marco Royce who scored his fifth goal in eight games for Borussia Dortmund so they are winning that one as we speak. Dortmund won their first game in this group. City lost their first game.

And in the other game, Real Madrid are giving Ajax a good hiding on the road. They are 4-1 up. Christiano Ronaldo has scored a hat trick in that game. That is his second hat trick in the space of I think just four days. And I believe his 18th for Real Madrid. So it looks as though Madrid and Dortmund are going to be riding high in that group with two wins from two games.

Earlier on we saw AC Milan nick three points on the road in Russia against Zenit St. Petersburg 3-2 to Milan in that game. They go the win a courtesy of an own goal from Tomas Hubocan, the Zenit St. Petersburg player. And you can't underestimate how important that win is for Milan. They've made an absolutely miserable start in Italy's Seria A, Becky, but they have now got their first win in Europe this season.

ANDERSON: Yeah. Remarkable stuff. You can never call Champion's League.

All right, Don. Thank you for that. Don Riddell at CNN Center.

We're going to take a very short break. More, though, when we come back. A very busy evening. NATO at the UN in Ankara and in Damascus. One assumes tonight Turkey has struck targets in Syria as a response to a mortar strike across the border into a Turkish border town killing five people including, we're told, children.

We're going to do more on this as you would imagine here on CNN after this.


ANDERSON: Breaking news here on CNN. Ankara has ratcheted up tensions with Damascus after striking Syrian targets in retaliation to the shelling of a Turkish border town. NATO has convened an urgent council meeting, that taking place right now.

The Turkish prime minister earlier released a statement saying the action was in response to a deadly mortar strike by Syria. The mayor of the town says at least five people, including three kids, were killed by a shell fired from Syria across the border.

Ivan Watson joins us once again live on the line from Istanbul. What do you know at this point?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, we do know that this shelling incident that killed the five civilians -- it was a mother, her three children, and a female neighbor -- this wasn't the first time that this Turkish border town called Akcakale was shelled, presumably by Syrian regime forces.

Last week, the Turkish government launched -- lodged a formal complaint about Syrian mortars landing in this particular village, prompting the closure of schools. But now there have been deaths, civilians killed, and this is pushing the Turks to show some kind of more muscular response.

Recall that a Turkish military reconnaissance jet was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft defenses last June. After that moment, the Turks called on allies, much as they are doing today. The United Nations, NATO, the Arab League denounced the actions but we did not see any overt military response from the Turks after its jet was shot down and two pilots killed earlier this summer.

ANDERSON: Ivan, thank you for that. Let's bring in CNN anchor and correspondent, my colleague Hala Gorani, joining us now from CNN Center. It's been an interesting response in the past half-hour or so, Hala.

From the Pentagon, a senior defense official saying the Pentagon is watching these cross-border attacks between Syria and Turkey with some degree of concern. But, and I quote, "At this point, there's nothing to suggest it's going to become a broader conflict," they say.

"We think this is Turkey basically saying," and I quote him here, "'Don't mess with us.' Whatever is going on inside Syria, don't mess with us. Your thoughts?

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Right. I would tend to agree with that, actually. Though it is reaching a significant higher level of intensity, certainly, in acrimony between the two countries, the big question is going to be at this stage, who launched those shells that landed on that Turkish border town that so tragically killed 5 civilians, including three children.

It is a spillover of the conflict. Was it a regime force shelling that went badly? Did a shell overshoot? Was that town targeted? That's not likely.

The thing to keep into -- in mind right now, Becky, as well, is that there have been spillovers of this nature in other countries bordering Syria, including Lebanon and Jordan, as well. Tragically, a child was killed as well in the Jordan-Syria border area. These types of things happen when you use imprecise weapons like mortar shells that can be imprecise to within 200 or 300 meters.

The question is going to be what happens tomorrow, as always, in a story like this one. Will the response from Turkey be met with another response? Will we start seeing more and more intense fighting in that area between the two countries.

And also, the results of this NATO meeting, which calls for consultations, not for intervention.


GORANI: We're going to see what kind of language comes out of that, as well.

ANDERSON: All right, stay with me, because we can talk now to a former British NATO commander, Rear Admiral Chris Parry in Prague.

And given what Hala's just said and what we understand, at least, to have been a referral from Turkey tonight to the -- to NATO, who are now meeting, as we understand, as we speak. If they've referred Syria tonight, what do you expect the discussions amongst NATO officials to be?

CHRIS PARRY, RETIRED REAR ADMIRAL, BRITISH ROYAL NAVY (via telephone): Well, I suspect that NATO will be saying to Turkey, we're standing well behind you. Attack on one is an attack on all. And I think they'll be saying that Syria is now in the Last Chance Saloon.

I think Syria's got to be very careful here. I've got no doubt that this is a mistake and this is some incompetent mortar commander has put these shells in the wrong place. But he's going to get his country into real trouble.

Because NATO countries and the West in general are itching to get involved more broadly in Syria, and they want to put political pressure on China and Russia at the UN, and this is just the sort of incident that is going to put pressure on to say, look, we've got to ramp up a bit more military pressure on the regime in Syria.

ANDERSON: Is this is the excuse NATO needs to go into Syria?

PARRY: No, I don't think so. I think Syria, if it's sensible, will say, look, this -- is a mistake, it wasn't meant to happen. And as your colleague just said, some of these dumb weapons are very imprecise, and you could just get the targeting wrong and they'll stray off course, and that sort of thing will happen. It's very tragic, but it happens in all conflicts.

I wouldn't say this was the trip wire, but I think NATO's getting together now, and the United States has said pretty forcefully through Hillary Clinton, you're in the Last Chance Saloon now. You're not going to get another chance. Stand by, you're going to get a coordinated response to any other attacks on our friends or our members.

ANDERSON: OK. I'm just getting some comments from NATO in, and while I do, and I get it here on my computer, Chris, can you just remind our viewers, because they will hear a lot about Article 4 going forward and, indeed, probably Article 5, just explain what NATO's position will be at present and potentially in the future.

PARRY: Well, right now, they'll be assessing whether this attack is part of a systemic attack on the Turkish border designed to tell the Turks to back off from the border area and stop interfering and taking in refugees, things like that, or whether it is just a mistake.

I think if they assess it's just a mistake, an isolated incident, they'll want to give Syria a final warning to say get your people sorted out, make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again, or there will be consequences, and not just from Turkey, but her friends, all of us.

If they assess it's part of a systematic move by Syria to be more aggressive, then I suspect they will ramp up more political pressure at the United Nations, and I should think that more NATO units will be put on alert to help Turkey defend her borders.

ANDERSON: Chris, always a pleasure, thank you for that.

"NATO demands immediate cessation of aggressive acts against NATO ally Turkey." A statement out of NATO in the past -- sorry, out of Reuters in the past few seconds. Let me give that to you again. NATO demanding immediate cessation of aggressive acts against NATO ally Turkey. That is a statement that is being reported by Reuters this evening.

Hala, I'll bring you back in. Chris agreeing with you, there, that we need to step back from this for 24 hours and certainly not expect any aggressive acts from NATO allies, although obviously their statement out this evening is -- is explicit.

GORANI: Right. Well, it's one of those strongly-worded statements that are, in the end, strongly-worded statements. They can only go so far.

But what Chris Parry said that I thought was interesting is he said, look, they're going to give Syria -- the government, in other words -- a final chance to get its house in order and prevent these types of attacks that cross over into the Turkish side of the border.

But the question is, who is launching these mortars? How organized and how much of a central command is there at this stage, 19 months into this conflict, that an order can be given from Damascus, handed down through the ranks, and make its way close to the Turkish border. I'm not sure at this stage that some of the pockets of conflict haven't gotten a little bit out of hand.

So, it is a question of trying to figure out, who launched the mortar -- it's happened before. Now, when you have that figured out, how much of a chain of command is there all the way to the top that you can actually organize your battlefield and your battleground troops to the extent that you can control them.

I don't know. At this point, there is a lot of murkiness. There always was in Syria, but even more so today, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, Hala, thank you for that. Hala Gorani joining us this evening. You've heard word from many parts of the region, as well, out of Istanbul, out of Beirut, and our correspondents who've been in and out of Syria across that border for months, now, assessing the situation as thing stand.

As we heard, just about an hour ago, that Turkey has struck targets in Syria in response to a mortar strike across the border earlier on Wednesday that killed five people in a Turkish border town.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. We're going to take a very short break at this point. Back --


ANDERSON: Japan's bullet trains are famous the world over for their speed and efficiency, aren't they? Every day, up to 168 fast trains arrive and depart Tokyo. Well, the cleaning crews get just seven minutes to work on each train, and as Paula Hancocks found out, it's known as the seven- minute miracle.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The platform of the Tokyo station. The world's fastest trains get the quickest turnaround. They call this the Shinkansen Theater, and the show is about to begin.

HANCOCKS (on camera): This operation is planned literally to the very last second. If you bear in mind, the train's only actually in the station for about 12 minutes. In that time, you have to get the passengers off. You also have to introduce new passengers.

So, it really only leaves about seven minutes for the team to do their job, and they affectionately call those seven minutes the seven-minute miracle.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Hidekazu Setoguchi has been at this for six months. Not a long time, but long enough to know that he's cleaning more than a train. He's looking after a national icon.

"Most people don't get a chance to ride the Shinkansen," he says. It's a train that diplomats, ambassadors, and governors from around the world come to see and to watch the crews match the speed and efficiency of the Shinkansen they clean, up to 168 trains a day.

"I have to do this very quickly," Setoguchi says, "or I can't finish in time." His seven minutes are up. It's time to leave the cabin.

"I hardly have a chance to see a passenger's face when they enter the train," Setoguchi tells me. "But I always hope they'll have a comfortable journey."

And with that, the Shinkansen Theater ends the same way it began, one last bow to passengers before the crew exits their stage.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Tokyo.



ANDERSON: Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. A TV anchor woman in the US made that declaration as she fires back at a critic who'd sent her a lacerating e-mail about her weight.

Jennifer Livingston of Wisconsin's WKBT told her viewers she's at a point where she can handle cruel words, but she is concerned about young people who are bullied every day by so-called cyber trolls. Let's listen to the heart of what she said.


JENNIFER LIVINGSTON, NEWS ANCHOR, WKBT: I want to take a moment to address a situation that has become a talking point in this community over the past weekend, especially on Facebook, that centers around me.

On Friday, I received the following e-mail from a La Crosse man with the subject line "Community responsibility." And it reads as follows:

"Hi Jennifer. It's unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised, indeed, to witness that your physical condition hasn't improved for many years.

"Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this community's young people, girls in particular? Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.

"I leave you this note hoping that you'll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle."

Now, I am a grown woman, and luckily for me, I have a very thick skin. Literally, as that e-mail pointed out, and otherwise. And that man's words mean nothing to me. But what really angers me about this is there are children who don't know better. Who get e-mails as critical as the one I received or, in many cases, even worse, each and every day.

The internet has become a weapon. Our schools have become a battleground, and this behavior is learned. It is passed down from people, like the man who wrote me that e-mail.

If you are at home and you are talking about the fat news lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat. We need to teach our kids how to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example.


ANDERSON: Well, Jennifer Livingston's statement, which went viral, put social media and its role in bullying front and center. Carrying on the conversation with us tonight is anti-bullying expert Jodee Blanco. She's joining us live from our Chicago bureau. How do you rate Jennifer Livingston's response to what is, effectively, bullying?

JODEE BLANCO, ANTI-BULLYING EXPERT: I -- I rate Jennifer Livingston's response a 10, because I'm a survivor of school bullying turned activist, and I travel to schools all over the world and I share my story to motivate change. And I think the most important point, and Jennifer makes a good one, is that we have to teach our kids compassion and not criticism.

But moreover, everyone's having this debate now all over the world about whether or not what that viewer did was bullying. And bullying cannot be defined by the intention of the perpetrator, because so many kids think it's just joking around. It's by the experience of the recipient.

And that's why my message to kids worldwide is that it's not just joking around. That words can hurt, and insensitivity can damage someone for life. So, I applaud Jennifer for taking a stand and using this limelight to make a difference.

ANDERSON: I know you do such good work, and yet it worries me that the -- the plethora of social media that we use today means that things are actually -- or at least seem to be getting worse, not better. 140 characters, for example, might seem harmless, but they can drip venom. And it seems anyone who's in the public eye now are at a risk of falling victim to cyber trolls.

Jodee, bear with me, I just want our viewers to be reminded of just a couple of the incidents. Tom Daley's fans were outraged when the Olympic diver was taunted over his late father when he didn't win gold at the London Games.

In Australia, TV personality Charlotte Dawson ended up in a hospital with a panic attack sparked by cyber bullies telling her to quote, "Go hang yourself."

And pop star Gary Barlow of the group Take That received mocking messages after he appeared at the Olympics closing ceremony. Soon after, his baby daughter was stillborn. All this leaves police and lawmakers struggling to find a balance between keeping the internet open and yet free from hateful messages. Your thoughts, Jodee?

BLANCO: Well, first of all, everyone always asks me that question as an expert on bullying, is it any worse today than it was 30 years ago? My answer is, in schools, no. The impulse for cruelty that motivates people to ridicule those celebrities and motivates people to be cruel to their classmates is the same as it's always been.

What's different is the weaponry to achieve it is more sophisticated and it cuts a wider and deeper swath. You also have the added element of anonymity. If you bullied someone in school 30 years ago, people knew who you were. You had to take responsibility for your cruelty. Today, you can do it behind the veil of the internet, and that's the truly terrifying component.

ANDERSON: And I think it's interesting as you've been talking, I've just been thinking about the sort of tweets that I've had in the past. Not from kids, we're not talking just kids here, are we? It's the -- it's the comments that you get from --


ANDERSON: -- other adults that, as you rightly point out, nobody would say in front of your face, hiding behind this kind of screen, this veil of social media. I've been absolutely horrified. I find it remarkable what people are prepared to say online.

Jodee, there's been a big reaction to the anchor woman's story on social media, as you can imagine. Keira Smalls, she wrote on Twitter, "How inspiring is this news anchor woman as she defends her weight, young people, and those who have ever been bullied."

Lots of people have also left their support on her Facebook page. John Russel wrote, "Jennifer speaks for so many of us who aren't the societal ideal as prescribed by our advertising media."

And finally, Sheryl Arnett wrote that "Jennifer is an inspiration with her elegant response to this type of bullying. The man who posted this should be ashamed of himself."

Do you think bullies are ashamed of themselves?

BLANCO: Actually, I think that most of the time, bullies don't realize they're being bullies. They either think they're just joking around or they think that they're being clever or glib, or they're simply so insensitive that they have no awareness of how their cruelty is being received.

That's why I think it's so important that parents teach their children compassion, that the exhibit compassion in the home, that people like me, I go out into schools and I also address adult audiences where I'm teaching awareness and compassion.

Because there's a saying that I often use is that -- the bully never remembers, the victim never forgets. And that could be if years have passed or simply just weeks. So, it's about compassion, sensitivity, setting the example, and making people aware.

If someone is insensitive to you in the workplace, at church, at home, in your neighborhood, look that person in the eye, stand up to them, and tell them, "You hurt me. This affected me. It's not funny, it's not a joke, it's inappropriate," and stand up for your dignity with grace and firmness.

ANDERSON: Jodee, it's a pleasure having you on. You make an awful lot of sense. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

On a recap just before the top of the hour, our breaking news today, Turkey launching an artillery strike against Syrian targets in retaliation for the shelling of a Turkish border town.

We are just getting in news that Syria says they are investigating the source of the mortar that hit this Turkish border town, killing people, including kids. They say they pass their condolences onto the Turkish people. NATO has met, they have a statement out. All that coming up just after this very short break.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for joining us. Your news headlines are after this.