Return to Transcripts main page


Airstrikes on ISIS Convoy Near Falluja; Terror Attack Death Toll Rises to 42; At Least 680 Killed in Terror Attacks This Month; Who Do Americans Trust to Fight Terror?; Lone Wolves and the Treat of Terror; Trump Supporter Mocks Warren; Obama Take a Swipe at Trump; McConnell: Trump's Getting Closer. Aired 11p-Midnight ET

Aired June 29, 2016 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: breaking news, just one day after the terror attack in Istanbul kills 42 people. America strikes ISIS. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Iraq says airstrikes on a convoy of more than 500 vehicles fleeing the city of Falluja have killed a large unknown number of ISIS fighters. U.S. officials tell CNN that American planes conducted a precision strike on a multi-truck convoy.

Meanwhile, we're getting new details about the Istanbul terror attack, which is just the latest in the deadly month of June. From Turkey to here at home nearly 700 people have died around the world, and that is just this month. In a world seemingly gone mad, have we learned anything about protecting ourselves. And are politicians up to the challenge of keeping us safe? But I want to go straight to CNN's Elise Labott, with the very latest on the air strike on ISIS, and she joins me now by phone. Elise, this is big breaking news in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. What can you tell us?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Don, U.S. officials can confirm tonight the exact number, somewhere between 250 and 500 vehicles that were targeted, but a U.S. official does tell CNN, CNN's Barbara Starr, that U.S. planes conducted a precision air strike on a multi-truck convoy coming out of Falluja. The precision required American aircraft, because there were a lot of civilians in the area. But Don, you know that Fallujah was really an important battle in ISIS. Iraqi forces with the help of U.S. and coalition air strikes have been battling to out ISIS from Falluja. This is an important issue in terms of dealing with these humanitarian crises in Iraq. This is a big stronghold of ISIS and it's really needed to win the peace there in the Sunni dominated area. And the U.S. with the help of the Iraqis, with the help of the U.S. really trying to choke off ISIS ability to move and choking off these cities has been a major tactic. We've seen it in Tikrit, we expect to see it in Mosul. And they're already working to choke some of these areas off. And also Falluja is only 40 miles from Baghdad. So you don't want ISIS to escape too close to the capital. And clearly Falluja a very important city for the U.S. in terms of all the bloodshed it has suffered in Iraq, Don.

LEMON: Elise, you mention all these different operations but how successful have coalition air strikes been? LABOTT: well I think the coalition airstrikes have been helping Iraqi

forces and Iraqi forces have been very successful. Slowly but surely they are making great advances against ISIS we saw it in Tikrit. We saw it in Falluja. And now the big push is going to be on Mosul. Hopefully, U.S. officials hope sometime by the end of the summer or sometime in the fall.

Unfortunately, as we've seen, as Iraq suffers, as ISIS suffers these losses on the battlefields in Iraq, and you also seen a lot of losses on the battlefield in Syria. The U.S. working with the Syrian Kurds and the Arabs there to try and push ISIS out of the northern part of the country on the border with Turkey. As you've seen ISIS losing ground, you seen some of these terrible terrorist attacks and U.S. and Turkish officials are pointing the finger at ISIS in Turkey. So big gains for Iraqi, Syrian, Arabs and Kurds and aided with the U.S. airstrikes on the battlefield. But unfortunately that's spilling over into more ISIS setting it sites on more international targets, Don.

LEMON: our global affairs correspondent is Elise Labott, joining us with the breaking news. Elise, thank you very much. And let's talk more now specifically about Istanbul. CNN's Ivan Watson joys is live from there. Ivan, you are learning new details about the attack tonight. Tell us the latest.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically the Turkish to government has announced that there were three attackers on the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. They went in Tuesday night. Arriving in a yellow taxi, one of these common taxis, the kinds that we are seeing here. The taxi driver has been questioned, we know since he's probably one of the last people to have seen the three attackers alive before they carried out their attack. They were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles. They were armed with suicide belts as well. And they moved into the airport at different points and were able to penetrate the rings of security around the airport.

[23:05:00] What is striking now is that as the sun is rising on Istanbul this airport is humming with activity. Within hours of a triple suicide bomb attack the airport was reopened with passengers arriving and taking off, with the people who work there going back to work despite the trauma that they had witnessed. Despite the loss of life of friends and colleagues as well. There are still bullet holes in the airport. There still bomb damage. A lot of it covered up, some of it repaired. And small memorials to some of the people who had died in this spasm of violence.

The Turkish government isn't saying yet who the bombers were. We don't know whether they've identified any of them yet. Part of the problem is there wasn't much of them left physically. But in most cases just the lower parts of their bodies due to the explosions, Don. But Turkish government officials do think that not only was this carried out by ISIS, not only are ISIS the number one suspect here, but they also suspect that the bombers themselves were foreigners, Don.