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Syrian Government Continues Flying Missions from Airbase Attacked by U.S. Missiles; U.S. Secretary of State to Meet with Russian Ambassador; White House to Announce Sanctions against Syria; Syrian Refugee Praises Attack against Assad Regime; Memorial Held at Site of Terror Attack in Sweden. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 8, 2017 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:16] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell in New York.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: We begin with major developments in Syria this morning. The launch point for this week's horrific chemical attack that left dozens of people dead has now reopened. The Syrian air force resuming flights from the air base there earlier today. It comes just less than 24 hours after getting hit by a barrage of U.S. cruise missiles on President Trump's orders. The Pentagon estimates roughly 20 aircraft were destroyed, but pro-regime media outlets and opposition group are seeing aircraft taking off from that base. The new reaction from the Pentagon in just a moment.

KEILAR: And this morning we're also getting word of brand new air strikes hitting the very site of Tuesday's chemical attack in Syria. At least one woman was killed, three others were injured. But at this point it's unclear who conducted these new air strikes. Our team of correspondents and experts are tracking all of these fast moving developments this morning. Let's begin now with CNN's Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne. Ryan, tell us what we know now.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: That's right, Brianna. So what we're learning is this air base may indeed be operational again. And what the military officials are telling us is that the point of the strikes was not to absolutely destroy the air base. They did not target the runway. But they did destroy some 20 aircraft and some of the hangars and radars and other elements of this base. That being said, it is -- the strike was intended to deter future chemical attacks and not necessarily incapacitate this air base fully, and some of these conventional attacks that may be resuming in that area that suffered that chemical weapons strike, they seem to be reoccurring as well.

KEILAR: There have been accusations leveled that Russia was complicit in this chemical attack because they were at the air base. What are officials saying about this? BROWNE: They're looking at two things. One is, as you mentioned,

there were Russian troops at this air base and it's hard to imagine that they were not aware that chemical weapons bombs were loaded on aircraft when these forces were nearby. Another thing they're looking at is presence of Russian drone flying overhead near the hospital that was struck some five hours after the chemical weapons attack. That strike against that hospital is believed to maybe be intended to cover up that chemical weapons attack because that hospital was treating some of the victims of that attack. So that's another thing that the military is looking at to determine whether or not Russia may have been complicit in that chemical weapons strike and that follow on strike against that hospital.

KEILAR: Ryan Browne, thank you so much. Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right, let's go now to Phil Black live in Moscow. Phil, what is the Kremlin saying about this U.S. allegation that Russia may be complicit in this chemical attack?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We put it to them, Victor, and they deny it simply as that. They insist that they are not complicit in any way, either through knowing and not doing anything or through actively helping out. They stick to their line that the Syrian government doesn't actually have chemical weapons anymore because it gave them all up as part of that international process it agreed to some years ago.

So what we are still hearing from Russian officials here I think is a predictable mix of outrage, predictable outrage, but also pragmatism as well. Predictable outrage in the sense that Russia insists, and we're hearing it from every level, Russian officials talking about this strike being illegal, that it undermines the legitimate sovereign government of Syria while at the same time only helping the people who are fighting that legitimate government and who are the real bad guys here, the terrorist groups on the ground.

I describe that as predictable because that's pretty the same thing that Russia has said at any attempt at international pressure on the Assad regime since the earliest days of the Syrian civil war. The pragmatism comes through while condemning the strikes, it is also being careful not to ratchet up tensions unnecessarily because it is trying to, I guess, come to terms with the same thing that many in the world are trying to understand right now, and that is just what this means. Was it a one-off, this missile operation, or is it part of some broader new strategy on the part of the Trump administration that could indeed lead to much greater American engagement in the Syrian conflict.

It's trying to determine that, what it means, because fundamentally things are now changed in the sense that the American administration has shown that it is willing to act militarily in Syria against the Assad regime whereas previously Russia had pretty much a free hand to prop up that regime. So all of these questions, these are things that have been cautiously mulled over here in Moscow and will very much be the focus of this week's coming visit to Moscow by the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Victor? [10:05:05] BLACKWELL: Phil, what is the latest on this Russian ship that's headed into the Mediterranean?

BLACK: So, it is pretty modern frigate in Russia's Black Sea fleet. The Admiral Grigorovich was in the Med, went to the Black Sea, is coming back out into the Med again we are told to rejoin Russia's standing naval force in the Mediterranean Sea, and it is expected according to Russian media reports to call into Russia's logistics facility at the Syrian port. This is the Russian naval base there.

A lot is being said by Russian officials here about this particular ship's capabilities, the fact it carries cruise missiles. We have been told that it will respond or stay according to the changing military situation there. I should add that this is a ship that fired cruise missiles at Syrian targets before, but Russia has also fired cruise missiles from ships a long way away in the Caspian Sea. So it doesn't necessarily need to park a ship at its facility on the Syrian court in order to do that.

It's a gesture, there's no doubt. It's a gesture at least of Russia's intent to support militarily the Assad regime, its willingness to deploy large military assets in order to do that, and at a time obviously when the Assad regime is under a great deal of focus and a great deal of pressure from the United States.

BLACKWELL: All right, Phil Black for us there in Moscow. Phil, thank you. Brianna?

KEILAR: Thank you, Victor. We are getting word now that President Trump has arrived at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. I want to go now to CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones live in Palm Beach. Athena, this seems to be a recurring practice of going to a Trump branded venue on the weekends.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. That's right, the president has made numerous reports to Trump branded golf courses, whether here in south Florida or outside Washington D.C., principally in Virginia. It's certainly a good branding opportunity for him when he goes to these places. We report that he's there. Oftentimes he has meetings at these golf courses. Sometimes he plays a few holes or a round of golf. It's not always clear what's actually going to happen. And sometimes we don't learn that he played golf. We find out through social media.

But this is coming off the heels of a pretty momentous last several days. A lot of questions have been asking what is the next step in Syria? And that has a lot to do with what Syria does next. That's according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who in a briefing with reporters at Mar-a-Lago yesterday said the future will be guided by how we see their reaction. And so the U.S. is monitoring whether Syria tries to attack, U.S. forces or coalition forces or carry out another chemical weapons attack.

As we heard from Ryan Browne just now, this latest strike, this strike on Thursday, the first direct military action by the U.S. against the Assad regime, it did degrade their capability somewhat to carry out attacks but not completely. In fact they avoided hitting a storage facility that contained sarin gas they believe, the nerve agent that has been used in some of these recent chemical weapons attacks. But officials said that they are still going to carry this out.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley strongly suggested that if the Syrian government does this again, launches another chemical weapons attack, that the U.S. could respond in the same way they did Thursday night, but that's really the big question mark here, what does Syria do next and therefore how does the U.S. respond. Brianna?

KEILAR: What can you tell us about U.S. sanctions against Syria?

JONES: Well, we know at that same briefing with reporters yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the U.S. would soon be announcing sanctions against Syria. He didn't get into specifics about who the sanctions would affect, what entities, but he described it as affecting people doing business with Syria. Secretary Mnuchin said "We view sanctions as being a very important tool and we will use them to maximum effect." That's interesting language, "maximum effect," because it seems clear up to this point that sanctions haven't been very effective in halting or in stopping or in any way affecting this war that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is waging against his people. So we'll see what those sanctions end up being and if they do have any real effect. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, Athena Jones, thank you so much in Palm Bbeach, Florida. And Athena, also taking a look at pictures that we're just getting in of Donald Trump there arriving at his -- I believe this is his arrival at the Palm Beach golf course, is that correct?


JONES: Right. I haven't seen those pictures. I did see a picture of him with reading glasses appearing to read something in the back of his vehicle, but I have not seen the latest pictures you're looking at.

KEILAR: OK, this is the tenth straight weekend, as you mentioned, Athena, that he's heading to a Trump branded venue or resort, so here he is at this one.

[10:10:01] And as Athena mentioned, which was pretty interesting, and you're getting a sense here of the motorcade heading this direction there in Palm Beach, as Athena mentioned, this is an opportunity for President Trump, perhaps also for there to be a branding opportunity with his venues there with his golf courses and his resorts.

But also, Athena, it was interesting you pointed out that he does have meetings, although sometimes we are led to believe that maybe there was a meeting, but then actually we see the photos as you mentioned on social media come out, someone might see him passing in the clubhouse and he's very clearly in attire to play golf, which is signifying that he did actually play, as you mentioned, at least a few holes, maybe a round when we weren't really sure what he was doing for hours on end.

JONES: That's true. That has happened more than once. Sometimes it is not clear, certainly when the press pool, that small pool of reporters assigned to follow him on a daily basis, when they arrive at these golf course, it's not always clear how much of the time is going to be spent in meetings or phone calls, how much maybe on the golf course. Sometimes the press focus of the Trump White House will say he's not going to play golf but it turns out he did. We'll have to find out what he does today. But we do know that he's there, he's taking advantage of I guess a little advertising for his Trump international golf club.

KEILAR: It's the tenth straight weekend he visited a Trump property. Athena Jones in Palm Beach, Florida, thank you so much for that. Victor?

BLACKWELL: Brianna, thanks so much. Let's bring in our panel, Phil Elliott, Washington correspondent for "TIME" magazine and Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times." Good morning.



BLACKWELL: So Phil, let me start with you and this news that this air base from which this chemical attack was launched and the U.S. strike hit Thursday evening now up and running fewer than 24 hours after the strike. Does that have some impact potentially on the effusiveness of the praise that we're seeing from people on both sides of the aisle and military leaders, that he hit it, well, now they're back where they were before the strike?

ELLIOTT: I'm not sure. I think that the reason why President Trump got so much praise is the response was proportional. He didn't go in with ground troops. He didn't lead an invasion. He didn't try to take out Assad himself. He took out a symbolic group of airplanes, and it was a sign that the U.S. is paying attention, is not going to be patient if they do this again, if they attack children, that very much impacted President Trump's thinking of the situation.

And now it says to Assad, the next move is yours, sir. You need to think very hard about what you're willing to do next because we've shown we will launch stuff from our ships, and there are consequences. We can hit things. We've hit a few things. You tell us how much more you want destroyed.

BLACKWELL: Let's look ahead to this meeting between the secretary of state Rex Tillerson and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, midweek. We know that there's a tweet that came out from the Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov where he said the conditions for negotiations in Moscow are even worse than during former Secretary of State John Kerry's times. Do we know what potentially is even on the table, what can be accomplished now that the relationship has so badly deteriorated.

SWEET: Well, that Tuesday meeting in Moscow with the secretary of state, whatever had been on the agenda of course has changed because of the Thursday unilateral missile strike by the United States. There are a lot of issues that could be talked about, including the big domestic one, which is did Russia meddle in the 2016 elections. My guess is that's not near the top of the agenda or anywhere near it right now.

The most important issue is to make sure this line of communication is still existing between the U.S. and Russia. We know that once the missile attack went that Russia said it was going to at least pause for now what's called a de-conflict escalation pact we have. So I think the first order of business is to make sure that Russia and the U.S. now are talking to each other now that we're talking about a military strike already have happened in Syria and the potential of another one. I would think the thing that everyone wants to avoid is having an escalation that brings the U.S. and Russia either directly or in their proxy states and soldiers in a situation that may be in hindsight would be assessed to have been avoidable.

BLACKWELL: Phil, the U.S. goes into this meeting having not, I guess, articulated any clear strategy moving forward with Syria. If this is a one-off, if there is something larger coming here, has not gotten on one page about the future of Assad, if they want Assad to go or if they're OK with him staying in that office after this attack. I wonder is this one of those situations in which the president knows and, as he brags about often, will not say, or they just don't know?

[10:15:10] ELLIOTT: I think it's they don't know. The president when he was standing in the Rose Garden this week with the president of Jordan bragged that he was flexible, that he's malleable when these topics come to his desk. And it's one thing for him to be tweeting that it's wrong for President Obama to have taken any action in Syria. It's another when he's in the situation room and he has these pictures in front of him of children, some of them the same age as his 10-year- old son, being attacked by a government. That really got to him personally and made him rethink what the U.S. role is and the power of the U.S. president to shape world events.

But this really is -- this really is the first moment of his presidency where he sees the power, he sees the potential for good to shape the world events and caused him to think maybe this isolationist, nationalistic America first agenda might not be what he wants his legacy to be a century from now.

BLACKWELL: So, Lynn, this week started with serious question about Russia and any potential collusion between Russian officials and Trump associates and questions about the roles of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in the administration. It ends with a win on Neil Gorsuch and this bipartisan praise for this strike on Syria. How do you rate the week for the president?

SWEET: The week ended better than it started. But I just do want to point out that the bipartisan praise is limited. It has a short shelf life partly because Congress left for its, I think, two-week long Easter/Passover break. There will be a lot of questions in Congress about whether or not they need if there's going to be further military action, to need authorization. So I think for the harmonious moment of taking a strike that some Democrats see was necessary on a humanitarian basis and welcomed that President Trump decided that this isolationist posture, which Phil had been talking about, is not an acceptable way for a Trump administration to go forth in the world. So he ended it better than he started, yes.

BLACKWELL: All right, Lynn Sweet, Phil Elliott, thanks so much.

SWEET: Thank you.


KEILAR: Thanks, Victor. The air base hit by a U.S. missile strike is now back up and running, and a new air strike has been carried out near the site of this week's chemical attack. What does this mean for what happens next in Syria?

BLACKWELL: Plus, Russian President Vladimir Putin blasting the United States over its missile strike on the Assad regime, saying the strike, quote, "dealt a serious blow to Russian/U.S. relations." Is the Trump/Putin relationship now tarnished? Is the reset dead?


[10:22:09] KEILAR: The Syrian air force has already reopened the air base targeted by U.S. missiles just a day ago, and now a new round of air strikes has hit near the same area targeted by chemical weapons earlier this week. Is a message being sent?

Joining us now to talk about this is Major General James "Spider" Marks, a CNN military analyst and advisory board member for Academy Securities. So General Marks, explain this to us, because when we take a look at the weapons that were used, the tomahawk missiles, these have certain capabilities, and we know that certainly the U.S. has the capability to say take out a runway, but that's not what happened here. Why?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: First of all, the tomahawk missile system is very, very precise, but it only has a certain amount of explosive that's onboard. So the tomahawk is not a weapons system to crater a runway and render that runway inoperable.

But if the United States had chosen to do that, and certainly we have plenty of capabilities that can crater runways, they are very easy to fill those holes back in, and you can make a runway usable and operational in very little time.

The message that we sent was, number one, we're going to act, and number two, we can act with impunity, and number three, we're very, very precise. And, oh, by the way, number four, you want to use your runway, you can use it again. Use it at your own risk because we have the capability of coming back and striking where and when we want.

But you know, Brianna, this really opens the bigger discussion about whether this is simply one strike that's isolated, retaliatory, very proportional in its response, or if this opens the door to more operations that will come down the road. But we have to know what the strategy is that would guide those next steps. KEILAR: Do you see -- it sounds like top administration officials

briefing senators yesterday said that the red line again is chemical weapons attacks, that is what would prompt another attack. Is that a policy?

MARKS: No. It's not a policy. It's very clear that what we did here is in response to this incredibly heinous act on the part of Assad, which he has done many times in the past. Let's just get that out there. There is a whole host of issues that this guy -- horrible, horrendous things that he has he's embraced as a matter of policy.

So in this very last act, our president saw this and said never again will we allow this to occur. So we struck the facility that launched this chemical attack. So that sends a very powerful message. I would be very surprised if Assad chose to use chemical weapons again. Certainly he has weapons he will continue to use. This fight will continue to go on. This insurgency that's in the country of Syria trying to reclaim this country and the government of Damascus and its horrible leader, dictator, what is taking place is horrendous, but it coincides with our national security interests because that's where terrorism and extremism can grow and flourish. That's not good obviously.

[10:25:12] KEILAR: General Marks, great insight. Thank you so much, sir. Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right, it's safe to say the U.S./Russian relationship is now on the rocks after President Trump authorized this missile strike on the Syrian regime. Why Kremlin officials are now blasting the administration, suggesting the U.S. has an ulterior motive.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell in New York.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington for Christi Paul.

CNN has confirmed that this morning new air strikes hit the very same site of Tuesday's chemical attack in Syria. At least one woman was killed, three others were injured, and at this point it's unclear who conducted these new air strikes. It is likely, though, the Kremlin or the Syrian regime that was behind it.

[10:30:09] BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, the Pentagon is trying to solve a question many world leaders are asking. Was Russia involved in this chemical attack on Syria? The Pentagon is examining whether a Russian warplane bombed a hospital five hours after the gas attack, aiming to destroy evidence. The attack Tuesday killed at least 80 people, injured dozens more, and the images of the children and grieving families prompted President Trump to launch a missile strike on the Syrian regime.

Earlier I spoke with a former Russian spy who says the Kremlin will continue to cross the line.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JACK BARSKY, FORMER KGB SPY: I think the Kremlin is going to continue to probe if there's some consistency to our policy, is there really a line in the sand that they can't cross? Ultimately they're not suicidal. Neither were the Soviet leaders in the past. They want to survive, but they also want to win the game. So we need to have a consistent approach that isn't just short-term but long-term. And I'm hoping that Mr. Tillerson is going to pursue that kind of line of thinking. If Russian, if they were complicit, it was with a wink and a nod. It was with having the ability to use plausible deniability. I don't think the facts will ever come out on this one.


KEILAR: Russia is now blasting the Trump administration after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was disappointed but not surprised by Russia's response to the chemical attack. Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov tweeted this Friday just this, "Tillerson, U.S. disappointed by Russian response. Was he expecting anything else? A startling statement but with a purpose. It builds leverage before the visit." Joining me to talk about this, Jill Dougherty, she's a CNN contributor and she's a former CNN Moscow bureau chief, a former colleague of mine. Jill, talk to us a little bit about what the Russian senator means. What is this leverage that he's referring to?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think you've got a lot going on. What's the official Russian position? And I think Pushkov is right, what did you expect the Russians to say? They're going to say it's illegitimate. There was no U.N. or international approval for this. They even noted that Congress wasn't involved, in Russian media they've been saying that. And then they also say this was an attack on a legally elected president. Now, Assad may not be the person that everyone loves, but the Russians would argue he is legally elected, therefore he's president. So that's all predictable.

But I think there are other things going on. Tillerson, as you just mentioned, will be going to Moscow. The Russians are not quite sure what this administration is doing yet in terms of long-term policy. They probably are as surprised as anyone about the about-face by Trump who had been indicating, or at least his officials had, that maybe, you know, the reality is we should just leave Assad in place. Let's be realistic. We'll never get rid of him. And then these attacks.

They also note that the attacks were targeted, and the Russians have been noting in their media, are basically mocking some of these attacks. It's interesting. They're saying, oh, the missiles, not all of the missiles hit their targets. By the way, Syrian planes are flying again. In other words, the Americans really just kind of did a pinprick attack and didn't mean that much. So they've got a lot of different messages I think because they are not really sure about what Donald Trump will do next.

KEILAR: Can I ask you, is it too soon to say this indicates a potential breakdown in a relationship between the Trump administration and President Putin, or is this just something that, you know, is at the moment creating some friction? DOUGHERTY: You know, I think that's a very interesting question

because after this happened, my feeling was this is a big event. This is kind of a turning point. And yet, you know, both leaders are unpredictable. President Trump has said just a few days ago, last week he was saying, you know, I pride myself on being able to change my mind, which is probably an understatement.

So the Russians are looking at that, and President Putin, up until Donald Trump, was the leader internationally who was unpredictable. You didn't know what he was going to do next. So I think there's a lot of kind of, you know, dancing, waiting, trying to figure out what's happening, and certainly in the case of President Putin, careful analysis of what they think Donald Trump is going to do and then adapting and being ready with their own strategy.

[10:36:06] So I wouldn't take this as any type of, you know, line in the relationship that completely ruins it. It is very bad. I think the worst thing, Brianna, is that de-confliction which was the agreement between both countries in Syria to warn each other kind of on the ground about planes flying and any military action so they would not attack each other. That is dangerous. Getting rid of that, as Russia did, I think ups the ante in terms of what could happen by mistake. That to me is creates danger.

KEILAR: It sure does. It's a big concern, of course. Jill Dougherty, thank you so much. Really appreciate your insight. Victor?

BLACKWELL: Brianna, thanks. Let's go now to Nick Paton Walsh in Istanbul. Nick, you reported extensively in the region. In response to these U.S. air strikes, how might we see ISIS respond?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does massively complicate the situation on the ground because until this point the U.S. had tried to stay out of the Syrian civil war for the most part, a little bit of help to the rebels at some stages, and focus, particularly in Trump times, on fighting ISIS. Now, there are some who say, well, when you hit the regime, you potentially weaken them in some areas where they're opposing ISIS, where they're fighting ISIS territory, and maybe let ISIS get the upper hand. That's an argument being leveled by the Russians who support the Syrian regime and other individuals, too, who think unilateral action in Syria to put the Syrian regime on its back first is generally a bad idea and contravenes international law.

But let's be realistic about this, frankly. The regime has never been that busy fighting ISIS. They have been fighting them for some cities that are in their strategic interests, but it has not been their focus. The regime has been focused on fighting the rebels who seek to take them out of government in their capital city, Damascus. In fact some say the Syrian regime is quite happy to let ISIS thrive because if that kind of terrifying radical extremism is effectively the face of the part of the population or the country that you don't control, then that works in your favor. You become the bulwark against global terrorism. So at this point we haven't really seen much in terms of ISIS leaping

forward and publicly declaring their aggression towards the strikes or the desire to make capital upon it, but it does feed into the dynamic. It certainly confuses matters. It certainly makes the possibility of Washington and the Syrian regime in Damascus getting on the same page in the fight against ISIS a little more distant because that would be two people who have been exchanging missiles suddenly deciding to get together and focus on a common enemy.

But at this point really I think ISIS is maybe still sitting back and trying whether this lead to their potential their opponents to just lose focus on fighting them. And frankly right now, Victor, they are on their back, nearly Mosul in Iraq and certainly losing territory fast inside Syria.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nick Paton Walsh for us there in Istanbul. Nick, thanks so much.

KEILAR: And 15 people are still recovering after a truck attack in Sweden, but investigators say it's actually lucky that the number isn't a whole lot higher. We're going live to Sweden for an update on the investigation and a look at the growing memorial there next.


[10:40:50] KEILAR: If you're a business traveler heading to Dallas, you might consider seeing the old west. The Fort Worth stockyards gives visitors a chance to step back in time. It's something fun to do when you're off the clock.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fort Worth is where the west truly began.

We're in beautiful downtown Fort Worth stockyards, what they call the cow-town area. This was the hub of the stockyards packing houses. Probably one of the few remaining stockyards that are still up and around where you can actually see what it looked like.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming here to Fort Worth stockyards is like stepping back into time. You can get the whole cowboy experience. We'll get you on a cowboy hat, put on a pair of boots, slap you on a horse, and you're ready to go. We get a lot of people who have never been on a horse or even touched a horse. We'll take them down the trail and they can experience it without having to go too far.

What I do love about horse riding is it could be the busiest, hectic day. I can get on a horse, and it's just a calming effect that they give you.



KEILAR: As awful as the deadly truck attack in Sweden was, it could have been worse. That is what investigators are saying now after finding a homemade bomb inside of the truck this morning. They say that explosives were set to detonate, but they never went off. CNN international correspondent Max Foster is live for us in Stockholm. Max, what can you tell us about these explosives and also the suspect?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've just been told it's a technical device of some sort and they're looking into it. They have arrested and effectively charged a man with terror charges. He's a 39-year-old man. He did live here in Sweden, and he was known to the security services, as we so often find out in these incidents. Parallels of London, for example, Berlin and Nice where you had a vehicle going into a crowd and the security services knew about them but they didn't know enough about them to want to follow them.

But the reaction is quite profound. If you imagine that so many people from across Stockholm have been coming down here. And this was a fence used to protect a building site. This turned into, as you can see, a wall of flowers. And as it's been shown on live TV, people have been coming down here trying to express themselves as best they can.

[10:45:06] It's a very powerful place to be. Even the crown princess was down here earlier and struggled to even speak. She was full of tears. There's a sign here, for example, saying Stockholm will not be beaten by terror. I had a chance to speak to the foreign minister when she came down.


FOSTER: Can we learn something from this or do we just have to learn to live with this type of thing now?

MARGOT WALLSTROM, SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER: No, I don't think we should learn to live with it. I think it has also really sort of mobilized all of the opposition to terrorism or to any kinds of violence of this kind. And I think a determination to continue to defend our way of life and our societies that are open, Democratic, and want freedom.


FOSTER: To really demonstrate that, Brianna, it was interesting, the prime minister a short while ago just ended up walking down the high street. She had some protection but not a huge amount, just speaking to people as he went down the street, a demonstration that this is a country and city that won't be cowed by this terror.

KEILAR: And we shouldn't learn to live with this. That was very profound. Max Foster for us in Stockholm, thank you so much. Victor?

BLACKWELL: The crisis in Syria raising fears for refugees who managed to escape. Next I'm going to speak with a refugee who is pleading with the U.S. and world leaders to intervene.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [10:50:57] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about time to get rid of this tyrant, this evil tyrant and stop him and stop those who are supporting him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy, because, you know, we've been suffering for five years, nobody going to take any action. People dying, crying everywhere in Syria. How could anybody in the world do that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that Syrians are happy about this air strike just speaks to the desperation of the situation for the last six years.


BLACKWELL: The Syrian refugees in the U.S. say they are horrified. They fear for the lives of relatives left behind in the war torn country, but they also say now is the time for the U.S. to do something, something more. One of those refuges is Mostafa Hassoun. He joins me now. Mostafa, hello. I'm going to start with what you felt when you first saw those pictures of people suffering from that chemical attack earlier this week.

MOSTAFA HASSOUN, SYRIAN REFUGEE: It's very sad to see those people killing without blood, to see the women crying for their children. It's really sad to see what's happened in Syria and nobody talking about it. I was crying all night, and I was hopeless about what's happened.

BLACKWELL: And what's your reaction, or what was your reaction after the launching of the strikes by the U.S. there on that airfield?

HASSOUN: I was so happy, and finally President Donald Trump making a real red line for Bashar al Assad, not like what Obama did before. I think, and I was so glad finally Mr. Donald Trump did it. And I wish for him to continue doing that.

But what we've learned thus far, although we're waiting for details of any potential strategy, is that this strike was in response to only the chemical attack and that there won't be one, maybe an ongoing campaign in response to the other attacks on the Syrian people. What's your response to that?

HASSOUN: I mean, what I wish -- what I understand from your question, and what I wish actually is to U.S. keep going and do that, not because Bashar al Assad chemical weapons. Bashar Assad was killing people every day by a lot of weapons. He kills people every day, so it's not just because Bashar al Assad is using chemical weapons we have to attack him. Bashar al Assad has to go. Bashar al Assad is a dictator and he kills people every day. So I don't think that will stop him to kill people.

BLACKWELL: Do you have family still there in Syria?

HASSOUN: No, I don't have family. Actually, I left Syria in 2011 and all my family members are outside of Syria in another country. BLACKWELL: So when you hear the president say that although there was

this strike, there seems to be, at least, no suggestion that the administration will welcome in refugees, although they condemned the chemical attacks. What do you say to people who agree with the president that although this attack was wrong, that we should not let in Syrian refugees here into the United States?

HASSOUN: I don't think that attack on Syrian regime is wrong. I think that's completely healing things, and if people don't accept refugee, that's OK. We will go back when Bashar al Assad is done and when Bashar al Assad left the country. But I cannot go back to my country if Bashar al-Assad is still in power and nobody is talking about it.

I think, and what I wish from Mr. President Donald Trump to keep doing that, to kick Assad out on all of the Iranian and Hezbollah militia outside of Syria and absolutely I would go back to Syria. I love this country, but I don't want to stay here. I want to go back to stay with my family and my friends in Syria.

BLACKWELL: All right, Mostafa Hassoun, thank you so much for sharing your story with us this morning.

HASSOUN: Thank you so much.


BLACKWELL: And thank you for watching.

KEILAR: There's so much more ahead in the next hour of CNN's Newsroom. Don't go away.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. Nice to be with my friend and colleague Fredricka.