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What Next as Regime Recaptures Aleppo's Old City; On Bended Knee at Standing Rock>. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired December 09, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[00:00:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: -- I'm in Tel Aviv next week, I'll see you on Wednesday.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN News Now, hello I'm Natalie Allen.

South Korean lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. The country's constitutional court

will now deliberate the motion. Park apologized on national television saying she'd been careless and calls chaos.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct the four review of election season cyber attacks. He wants the report

before Donald Trump takes office.

U.S. official said blamed Russia for cyber attacks meant to influence the outcome of the presidential election, Russia denies the allegations.

A new report says more than 1,000 Russian athletes were involved in or benefit from state sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015. The report was

commission by the world anti-doping agency. Russia continues to deny the existence of any type of state sponsored doping program.

The president of Ghana has conceded defeat in Wednesday's national election. A spokesman says he called opponent Nana Akufo-Addo on Friday.

Ghana has a record of peaceful elections and this is the third time since 2000 that voters ejected a government.

That is your CNN News Now. Up next here is "Amanpour". You're watching CNN.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, it looks like Armageddon in Eastern Aleppo exclusive reporting from the ground by Fred Pleitgen. As

Syrian forces take back almost all of the key city, sending terrified civilians fleeing for their lives.

Plus, is this the end game? Two opposing views from two top U.S. officials.

And, on bended knee at standing rock, an extraordinary summit between U.S. veterans and Native Americans at the Dakota oil pipeline protest.

Good evening everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

All week, the Syrian offensive in the east of Aleppo has mark a decisive turn in the five and a half year civil war. President Assad looks less and

less likely to be going anywhere, anytime soon. But within the ever shrinking opposition held enclave of east Aleppo, rebels are looking for

negotiate it way out, and this hundreds of thousands of terrified civilians wonder what will happen?

Later on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, the Syrian Army would stop military action to focus on evacuating them.

Our senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen has this sending us reports all week as his been following the regimes relentless advance. On

Tuesday he sent us this dispatch from the front lines.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Aleppo, 24/7. Shelling an airstrikes raining down mostly on rebel held areas.

Near the front line, Palestinian pro-regime fighters show us what they claim was a former 0:03:33.3 field hospital they found when they advance to

this area.

Every injured rebel would be taken here he says, you see the medicine and blankets, this is one of their instruments they used.

Syrian pro-government forces have brought heavy weapons to the front line as they continue to push the opposition back. They showed us this home

made mortars, an accused rebels of lasing them with chemical, the army says it discovered in this room close by.

This alleged weapons facility is inside what used to be an elementary school in this former rebel held district and the Syrian Army says it found

this place when it was sweeping the area as rebels are retreating.

The battle show no sign of letting up as Syrian forces continue to pound rebel held district. Killing hundreds in the past days and leading

thousands of civilians trap in that risk.

In an interview with CNN, a Syrian general says government forces will not stop unless opposition fighters withdraw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That if he insisted to go on fighting and bombing all our people in Aleppo and civilians or the army, we have to continue our

mission to get the city back to its people.

PLEITGEN: And with that means is playing for everyone in Aleppo to see and to hear.


[00:04:57] AMANPOUR: And on Wednesday Fred became the first international journalist into the old city right after it was captured, and he was the

first to witness columns of refugees trying to flee.


PLEITGEN: This is what rebel discretion looks like during the Aleppo nights, firing jets in the skies unable to stop them from dropping their

deadly load.

And this is what the rebels defeat looks like when daylight comes. Thousands of civilians fleeing the old town of Aleppo only hours after

government forces took most it back.

Among them Najuwa (ph) with her seven children, one of them her baby Balal (ph).

When we left there was a lot of shelling behind us, a lot of shooting in front of us and the airplane is above us, she says, we barely manage to get


Most seem weak and malnourish, some resting finally in safety in this former school. The smallest a baby girl Hazal (ph) is only seven days old,

born right as the battles were at their worst.

It really a remarkable some of the scenes that we're witnessing here hundreds of people have already come across the boarder crossing between

eastern and western Aleppo. And many of them are taking shelter in buildings like this one carrying only the very view possessions they could

take as they fled.

Soldiers take us to the places they recaptured from opposition forces only hours before. We see Syrians evacuating weak (ph) and held there. And

rebel barricades showing just how intense the fighting was.

Just look at all the destruction here, we're actually in the old town of Aleppo right now. And this entire area until a few days ago was right on

the front line.

While this may not be the end of the oppositions fight in Aleppo, many of those fleeing described the rebels moral sinking and the harrowing

conditions in the siege areas.

We didn't have food that barely any bread this man says, we were eight people, they would only give us two loaves of bread every two days, that

was it for all of us.

While much of eastern Aleppo has been reduce to rebel, the one thing expanding was the cemetery. This one run out of space as the bodies kept

coming. Now that much of eastern Aleppo has change hands, Syrian soldiers plant their flag on the ruins, the place they've just conquered.


AMANPOUR: By Thursday that trickle of refugees had become a flood. And Fred filed this report on the hunger and desperation of those now force to

cross the front lines into government held territory.


PLEITGEN: As the rebels increasingly lose their grip on Aleppo, Syrian Arm forces continue to pound the besiege areas that killed and wounded in the


We came to this front line crossing just as a man was being evacuated, claiming he was shot by rebels as he try to flee.

They shot me as I was running out, he says they don't allow anyone to get out. They said, are you going to the regime areas?

The opposition strongly denies its fighter would harm civilians, but the rebels do acknowledge they won't be able to hold out in Aleppo much longer.

And that realization is leading to an avalanche of people trying to flee the rebel districts.

Syrian troops throwing some bread but not nearly enough to fed the hunger, the many who've been starving for months.

The Syrian military has made major advance as once again in the past 24 hours, and we can see that as the army moves forward, more and more people

are coming out of those former besiege areas.

Many of those fleeing families was small children. Struggling to carry that he belonging, they were able to take. Many over powered by emotions.

Some with barely enough strength to walk, others too frail to walk at all.

The Syrian Army as a mass of massive force at this front line the local commander with a clear message to the rebels.

Look at the sea, he says, these are your families. Surrender yourselves and drop your arms, come back to the country and hopefully our leadership


But for now, the fight goes on. This family one of the many to cross Garma control territory, now in safety but still to agony.

Things used to be good, this elderly woman says, may God act up revenge on those who brought us this difficult circumstances that may God protect us.

And so, they walked off, weak and traumatize hooding into an uncertain future.


AMANPOUR: Despite this extreme and highly visible human suffering, diplomatic solutions were again difficult to come by. A UN security

counsel resolution calling for a ceasefire was veto by Russian and China.

[00:10:02] But later on Thursday in Hamburg, Sergey Lavrov the Foreign Minister claim the Syrian Army would pause military action in Aleppo. This

is how the special Syria envoy, the UN Undersecretary General Staffan de Mistura address the crisis.


STAFFAN DE MISTURA, UN UNDERSECRETARY GENERAL: The Russian Federation indicated, I mean for Russian that you must have heard, then we saw it and

during the actual secret counsel meeting. That they have announced the suspension of active combat activities both by themselves and the Syrian,

their military in order to allow and assume evacuation volunteer evacuation of the civilians.


AMANPOUR: So what now for Syria? Are we seeing a military defeat of the rebels and what human cost? We debate that on certain future after a



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

The decisive turn in the battle f or Aleppo spare talk of the end game for the Syrian War. But is it? We hear two sides of the argument over Syria's

future from a former U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Evelyn Farkas.

Welcome both of you to the program. You've just seen that really stark reporting from Fred Pleitgen. Let me ask you first Peter, you know, all

your experience in the Balkans, and before in Iraq with the Kurds, how do you see this ending now. Is this the end? Is it just a matter of days or

will the rebels move to fight another day even in the mourning (ph) close area?

PETER GALBRAITH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: Well, the scenes are just rarely familiar of people streaming out of their homes and the destruction, so

your when heart feels really feels for this. But I think this war, there really two wars in Syria, there's one between the government and the

opposition which includes moderates to extremist.

And there's a separate war being fought in the east between the Kurds and the Islamic state. But it is the war in the west and the populous west

that is coming to an end, and this is wars often tend in. They seem like they're going to go on forever, and then there's a really rather rapid

collapse and you'll remember Christiane in Bosnia in July of 1995 after Srebrenica look like it would go on forever, and in fact it was over by


AMANPOUR: With absolutely --

GALBRAITH: And so --

AMANPOUR: -- horrendous consequences in Srebrenica and the massacre of 8,000 men and boys there and I wonder Evelyn -- let me just turn to Evelyn

before I come back to you Peter. You know, is the worst case scenario being feed (ph) in Washington now? I mean, you know, this administration

in the west which simply did not step to help the opposition in the way that they could have done.

[00:15:03] Could there be massacre, is that what they're fearing today?

EVELYN FARKAR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Yes, I'm sure but the thing is first I have to correct the record, I was with DOD,

Department of Defense not state.

But second, I think what we are really seeing though is not any likely that is going to come to an end ala Bosnia, because in Bosnia what you needed

was a real threat to the forces that were on the ascendancy, there so that some forces which were doing well, they needed a threat of a defeat on the

battle field.

And we still don't have that appropriate leverage over the Russians and Syrians and the Iranians in order to bring it to an end the way we did in


AMANPOUR: So Peter, you've written about how to get leverage and how to end this. What kind of diplomatic deal or what kind of deal with the devil

is going to be required to end this?

GALBRAITH: Well, first it is the Syrian government not by Iranian forces, the Russian Air Force, Iraqi Shiites, Afghan Shiites and Hezbollah that

have the upper hand. These are the ones that have the power.

And -- you know, when -- I see no point in continuing to support an opposition that has already lost, it simply gets more people killed. So

what I've said is this is the time now to see if we can negotiate -- basically negotiate a surrender, but where losing side doesn't lose


And there are some things that are achievable, for example amnesty, some opportunities for people to return home possibly even the removal or some

of the Syrian officials obviously not including President Assad, who responsible for the worst crimes.

Some international monitoring, it's not a lot, but it is a lot better than continuing a lost war. And here Russia has a lot of leverage and it shares

some of our goals, which Iran and the Syrian regime don't.


GALBRAITH: But the Syrian regime would still like the Russian Air Force.

So I think there is a possibility. No guarantee of success. But a possibility of trying to have a basically a negotiated surrender that

provides some terms that would allow the losing side to continue to live in Syria.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, Evelyn, I'm sure you're wincing at the word "surrender" as many people who supported the opposition should must be. Plus, I would

like you to address what Peter is suggesting, in fact, what's becoming conventional wisdom that Assad will not go and he will remain. And that's

the only way this is going to happen.

First of all, what leverage, if any, does the U.S. have to change this dynamic one iota right now? And what is the hope for the people as Peter

says to grant people amnesty and safe passage. And to make sure there's not a slaughter of people who were trapped behind the front lines.

FARKAS: So I don't think we have anymore leverage. I mean, Secretary Kerry, you know, if he could and God knows maybe he is still on the phone

with Lavrov trying to actually do exactly what Peter has suggested. Of course. I mean, I think we all would like this to come to an end as soon

as possible. But the cost is quite high. Because if we come to an agreement right now with Russia, given the fact that we have no leverage,

those people will not get amnesty. The Russians will not feel that they have to give them everything. And frankly speaking, it's the Syrian

government that will have to decide that.

And what we've seen thus far is all the places that they've cleared out. They've taken retribution against the opposition. Fighters, but also

against the civilians. And we're already seeing reports of that coming out of Eastern Aleppo today.

So I think it would be a grave mistake to, you know, basically seal the international travesty with a negotiated settlement right now, given the

fact that we have no leverage.

The only leverage we would have maybe would be Donald Trump saying if you don't, you know, give them the amnesty, et cetera, et cetera, I will

actually provide weapons to the opposition. I will do XYZ.

AMANPOUR: Well, then, let me ask you about this. Do you have any hope that Donald Trump gives any quarter to the rebels or to the opposition. I

mean, what we're hearing is quite the opposite and that he's much more inclined to do a deal with Russia to end this.

Do you have any hope, first, Evelyn, and then Peter on this issue?

FARKAS: No, I don't. Because everything that he has said has indicated his entire focus is not on the civil war between the Syrians, the

opposition and Assad's forces, of course, aided by the international community. His focus is not on that. His focus is on the fight against

ISIS. And that means that he's going to disregard what's happening to those innocent civilians, the travesty of human rights violations, the

Russian bombing deliberately hospital, et cetera. So everything Donald Trump has said about Syria, and then of course, he said a bunch of things

about wanting to cooperate with Russia, and that also indicates a kind of forward-leaning posture, not one that would indicate that he's going to

kind of take a firm stance on behalf of the Syrian moderate opposition or the civilians.

[00:20:06] AMANPOUR: So, Peter, you've heard on the ground in the last, you know, few months in that area. And you've heard just what Evelyn has

said, and what you -- you know, the idea of so-called negotiated surrender, particularly with an incoming president, doesn't that put the United States

president on the side of Bashar al-Assad?

GALBRAITH: Well, let's be clear. In his very first interview as president-elect which was with "The Wall Street Journal," Donald Trump said

that he wanted to work with the Assad government and with Russia to defeat the Islamic State.

And, yes, what's going on in Syria is absolutely horrendous. But the alternative to trying to save something is to do nothing. And to have the

massacre continue, the fighting continue until many more people are killed and sometimes when a war is lost, it is better to try to end it.


AMANPOUR: Well, let me play devil's advocate -- so, Peter, you have in the Balkans and you mentioned Srebrenica, that is not what ended the war. What

ended the war was the United States leading a coalition to bomb and push back the aggressors, the Bosnian Serbs. Why shouldn't that happen in this

case, Peter?

GALBRAITH: Well, I mean to be precise, it was less the United States than the United States giving a green light to Croatian army on the ground.

AMANPOUR: On the ground, but the U.S. was in the air.

GALBRAITH: Which pushed back the Serbs.


GALBRAITH: A month later. But, look, the sides hadn't been defeated. In fact the Croatians were on a roll. The Bosnians were making some progress.

And there was a United States willing to come in and use military power. Clearly, that's not going to happen now. President Trump has been clear

that he's going to work with Russia and with Assad.

And so, under those circumstances, I think it's -- the right thing to do is focus on what can be saved and beyond the civilians and ending the fighting

in the west, there's also the war in the east. Where our allies have been the Syrian Kurds and they have made enormous progress against the Islamic


In fact, they've taken -- of all the groups fighting, they are the ones who have taken the most territory. They've inflicted the biggest defeat on the

Islamic State and the question is, what's going to happen to them afer this is over. Will we abandon them?

AMANPOUR: I'll get to that in a moment, because that's obviously your cause.

Let me ask you, Evelyn, quickly. What peter says is correct. That there's been no willingness to either empower a force like the Croatian army on the

ground in the Balkans or indeed to engage overhead with air power. Doesn't the Obama administration assume an enormous amount of culpability for the

way this is ending?

FARKAS: Yes. Absolutely. But the problem is, I don't think -- I mean, I'm not -- you know, a part of me understands obviously Peter's argument.

I would also like a negotiated settlement. But it's not going to end the violence. Because you're still going to have Islamic State. Then you're

going to have the moderates still fighting Assad. So, it's just going to happen in a different way. Probably more like what we see in Iraq with car

bombings, et cetera.

So I don't think, unfortunately, this is going to bring -- this kind of negotiated settlement under these circumstances will bring an end to the


AMANPOUR: And just finally to you, Evelyn, is there a feeling that there's nothing more to be done the Russia is absolutely in the driving seat and

this is going to end on their terms?

FARKAS: Well, unfortunately, I don't really see an alternative, because if our government is not going to step in and provide assistance, it remains

then for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, these other countries that could provide MANPADS and other equipment that we have been thus far unwilling to

give the opposition.

Now, I will say that the new defense authorization bill that is pending in Congress, about to be passed, that will contain a provision allowing the

next president to provide shoulder-fired missiles, which would help against the Russian airpower to the moderate opposition.

AMANPOUR: Yes, but you don't expect the next president to do that?

FARKAS: But I don't expect it to happen. No. Unfortunately, no.

AMANPOUR: All right, Evelyn. Evelyn Farkas from the DOD., thank you very much indeed for joining us. And, of course, Peter Galbraith, former


Next, imaging a truly extraordinary seen. U.S. army veterans on bended knee at Standing Rock, we'll explain.


[00:26:30] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world healing the wounds of the past with the help of unlikely allies. When Native Americans

stood up to defend sacred sites against the Dakota access oil pipeline, thousands of U.S. army veterans flocked to Standing Rock to support the

Sioux tribe. And when the U.S. army on Monday said the pipeline would have to bypass their sites, army and Sioux warriors shared in the joy of their


Now imagine going a step further and exorcising a painful past.

As Wesley Clark Jr., son of a former NATO supreme commander got down on bended knee with other service men and women begging forgiveness for a

history of violence against America's indigenous peoples.


WESLEY CLARK, JR., SON OF FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: We didn't respect you. We polluted your earth. We hurt you in so many ways. We have come

to say that we are sorry, we are at your service, and we beg for your forgiveness.


AMANPOUR: And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always listen any time to our podcast and see us online at and follow

me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.