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Waiting to be Evacuated; Trump Wraps Up "Thank You" Tour; Reuters; Syrian Government Says Evacuations to Resume; Turkey Arrests 15 People After Deadly Car Bombing; China Criticizes U.S. Response to Drone Seizure; Ice Brings Deadly Road Conditions Across U.S. Aired 2- 2:30a ET

Aired December 18, 2016 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:11] CYRIL VANIER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: A desperate wait in Aleppo. Civilians hope to escape the conflict and the cold with a new evacuation agreement.

Donald Trump returns to the site of one of his first major campaign rallies to give thanks to his supporters.

Plus, winter weather drips ice across major U.S. highways and wreaked havoc on motorists.

Hi, everyone, thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier live from Atlanta. And CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Thousands of Syrians are still trapped in Eastern Aleppo in freezing temperatures waiting to find out whether a new deal to evacuate them will actually come through. Reuters is reporting that the Syrian government has confirmed the deal. That doesn't mean it's actually going to hold. Other evacuation deals are broken down, the latest one just on Friday.

We're just learning that the new deal was mediated by a Turkish envoy. A legal advisor for the rebels says the deal is better than the previous one but still precarious. In the meantime, civilians there are hungry, cold and afraid. They are praying that they will be evacuated before they're killed in further fighting. Our Muhammad Lila has more from the Turkish Syrian border.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A spokesperson for the Red Cross in Damascus tells us that those green buses that have been used for evacuate those rebel fighters and civilians from the Eastern part of Aleppo, that those buses are fueled up and ready to go but they're not moving just yet. The Red Cross says they do not have the security guarantees in place to guarantee the safety of their people on the ground. And of course the Red Cross has played such an important role in mediating and facilitating this evacuation until they get the security green light.

It's very unlikely that the evacuations will happen. These evacuations seemed to be going OK and then they broke down. Part of the reason they broke down is Syrian government says that the rebels were smuggling weapons and banned devices, banned communication devices out of Eastern Aleppo. The rebels say that there was an agreement in place but it was stalled by other militias, other pro- Assad militias on the ground.

Now, we do understand that this evacuation is now gotten slightly more complicated because it was meant to take place simultaneously with the evacuation of two towns that had been besieged by Islamist rebels. So it wasn't a straightforward evacuation of fighters and civilians from Eastern Aleppo, but it was meant to take place in tandem with the evacuation of civilians from two other towns that had been siege. And then of course that makes it more complicated because it is not just a straightforward evacuation, it becomes more of a transfer where things have to take place at the same time and it requires guarantees from all sides, and requires timing and more logistics.

The good news is that we do understand that there is going to be a very critical meeting coming up between Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Russia on December 27th. They'll be talking about the possibility of a permanent ceasefire.

Now, if and when that meeting takes place, it could be a game-changer with the region's key players all sitting at the same table and it could finally lead to some sense of security. A possible ceasefire or peace agreement that would put an end to this bloody and drawn-out conflict.

Muhammad Lila from the Turkish-Syrian border, CNN.

VANIER: Turkish military officials have held a ceremony for 13 soldiers who were killed in an attack in Central Turkey. The soldiers were traveling in a bus on Saturday when a car bomb exploded nearby. The coffins are now being flown to the soldiers' homes for burial. Authorities have arrested 15 people connected to the attack. The Saturday's bomb is the latest in a string of deadly bombings in Turkey this year.

As Venezuela's economic woes deepen and inflation their skyrocket, its president is backing off an earlier move to pull a popular bank note from circulation.

Nicolas Maduro announced last week that the 100-Bolivar note would be discontinued with the aim of fighting so-called "mafias" that he claimed were hoarding them.

A protest erupted when the currency said to replace the bills failed to reach many banks or ATMs by last Thursday's deadline, leaving people with no alternative but to use them.

Mr. Maduro now says that the old bills are good until January 2nd. He blames the crisis on a global conspiracy.


[02:05:00] NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT, (through translator): We are being victimized by an international sabotage, so the new bills that are already ready can't be transferred to Venezuela. So I denounce it. I personally have been on it at night, in the afternoon, at dawn on all the details and I appreciate the immense majority of the Venezuelan people for their support on the measure that is a blow to the monetary mafias. And I ask for support from everyone. I do so in the interest of the whole nation of our economy.


VANIER: The 100-Bolivar note is Venezuela's highest denomination bank note but after years of financial decline, it's only worth about two cents on the unofficial exchange rate.

Now China says the U.S. overreacted to the seizure of one of its underwater drones in the South China Sea.

According to the U.S., the drone like this one was being used for research in international waters earlier this week when the Chinese Navy swept in and grabbed it.

Both sides now say that the drone will be returned, but China is saying the U.S. is inappropriately hyping the issue. Beijing claims they nearly took the drone to ensure navigational safety.

Here's President-elect Donald Trump. He was quick to weigh in on this incident. Early Saturday he went on Twitter to express his outrage calling China's action quote unprecedented. Later he tweeted, "We should tell China that we do not want the drone they stole back, let them keep it."

And the president-elect continued his "Thank You" tour Saturday with a rally in Mobile, Alabama. Donald Trump told the large crowd of supporters there that returning to the Deep South was a homecoming of sorts.

CNN's Ryan Nobles was there.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump making good on a campaign promise returning here to Mobile, Alabama. The site of one of his first major campaign rallies was back in August of 2015, the Trump brought out a crowd of some 30,000 people. And on Saturday he told a similar-sized crowd that this is where it all began.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you very much. This is where it all began. Remember that incredible rally we had and people came out and it was like this, it was packed and incredible and people said something is going on there, right? That was the beginning. Was it? That was the beginning. And if you remember, even though you don't have to vote for me, maybe four years we'll take a look, right?

But you know what? I said I'm coming back to see you in Alabama, right?


NOBLES: Now Trump gave the crowd a history lesson detailing state by state his victory on election night.

What Trump didn't do is wait into some of the complex policy issues that awaits him when takes office. He did mention China or Russia despite the U.S. relationship with both of those countries becoming a growing situation for the incoming Trump administration.

Instead the President-Elect focused on many of his campaign promises, specifically how he plans to help the American economy, he did go off- script a bit, criticizing the current First Lady Michelle Obama for an interview that she recently gave to Oprah Winfrey, where she suggested that a sizable part of the country lacks hope because of Trump's election victory.


TRUMP: Michelle Obama said yesterday that there is no hope. But I assume she was talking about the past, not the future, because I am telling you we have tremendous hope and we have tremendous promise and tremendous potential. We are going to be so successful as a country again. We are going to be amazing. And I actually think she made that statement not meaning at the way it came out. I really do because I met with President Obama and Michelle Obama in the White House, my wife was there, she could not have been nicer.

I honestly believe she meant that statement in a different way than it came out, because I believe there is tremendous hope, and beyond hope, we have such potential.


NOBLES: Trump now heads doing his stay in Palm Beach, Florida where he plans to spend the Christmas Holiday with his family. It's unexpected to make any news but there is a chance that we could learn more about appointments in his administration in the coming weeks.

Ryan Nobles, CNN Mobile, Alabama.

VANIER: A freezing rain and black ice are making road travel dangerous throughout large parts of the U.S.

This is from the 55-car pileup in Baltimore, Maryland. The U.S. is getting hit with extremely cold temperatures, coupled with below zero windchills. Multi-vehicle accidents have killed at least six people in three states.

Now, the ice is accumulating in many areas and meteorologist Karen Maginnis is going to tell us more about that. She joins us from the CNN International Weather Center Karen?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And Cyril, the black ice reference is because you get some liquid precipitation and it falls on this black asphalt and it freezes there. But it just looks like maybe the roadway is a little bit on the dumped side rather than frozen. So anytime you hit the brakes, you're just going to be skidding. That's what they saw in Baltimore and Indianapolis and in sections of Oklahoma where that wide swath of icy precipitation prevailed.

[02:10:02] And now a story of a different sort. Temperatures in the northeast have actually warmed a little bit like in New York City but you'll see something interesting here in just a second. But in Nashville the temperatures were exceptionally warm, but now those temperatures are going to be dropping to below freezing, and all that precipitation now is going to become frozen precipitation on those roadways.

And this is the view in Brooklyn, New York. Yeah, they saw a couple of inches of snowfall. They're about 6 to 12 centimeters for the most part. It's enough this tiny thing (ph), it didn't really shut things down.

Here are some of the current temperatures. These readings are in degrees Fahrenheit or just above zero degrees. And were looking at that most of that precipitation is on the liquid side. However, if you go into interior sections of the northeast and across the Great Lakes, then you're looking at temperatures in the low 20s for the most part or about minus four degrees.

This is very interesting. Nashville made it to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Now those temperatures are barely hanging in above freezing. But look how warm it is at ahead of this weather system, it is incredible. We have seen new record or record setting temperatures but if you go towards the upper Mississippi River Valley, these temperatures are startling as we see minus 27 degrees in Bismarck, minus 17 in Fargo.

Well, before we get too far, I want to take you all the way to China where they are looking at very unhealthy air quality. We may or may not have some pictures from there, but over the next three days, they are looking at very treacherous conditions and we will expect that fog and smog to continue. This thing is very unhealthy. The area from Beijing all the way to -- in the vicinity of Shanghai. So be careful there. Limiting the volume of traffic on the roadways and they are shutting down some factories to the tune of about 1200. Cyril, back to you.

VANIER: And Karen Maginnis, thank you very much. And China is been forced actually to issue a red alert. It's the first time this year. The smog is so bad.

MAGINNIS: Yeah, it's very bad.

VANIER: All right. Karen, with the report from the International Weather Center here at the CNN World headquarters based in Atlanta, thank you very for watching us.

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