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Allies Target Suspected Chemical Weapons Facilities; Survivors of Suspected Chemical Attack Speak; Pentagon States Strikes Successfully Hit Every Target; Sarin, a Pesticide Used on Humans; Inside Factory Where Tomahawk Missiles are Made. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired April 15, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Our coverage of the strike on Syria continues. I'm Bianca Nobilo.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Cyril Vanier.
Let's get started. On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump declared mission accomplished in Syria. The U.S., France and U.K. launched their operation against Syria's chemical weapons program early on Saturday following a suspected chemical attack in Douma last week.
Senior U.S. officials say that both chlorine and sarin, they believe, were used in the attack. We know at least three sites were targeted in Saturday's strike, including a research facility in Damascus, the capital, as well as storage facilities and command and control center, both of those being near Homs.
NOBILO: The U.S. says more than 100 missiles were fired and all hit their targets. Syria and its ally, Russia, deny that. They claim most missiles were intercepted and the attack was repelled.
But these satellite images which you're seeing now paint a different picture. They show a site near Damascus. One moment the structure is there and now it's gone.
This video shows what used to be a research facility on the ground and the damage appears significant. Russia accuses of strikes of undermining global peace and security. It even tried to push through a resolution condemning at the U.N. Security Council. It failed to pass.
CNN has reporters covering the story from around the world. So let's go straight to the region and get a view from the ground. Our Nick Paton Walsh filed this report earlier from Northern Syria.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Twenty-four hours in and I think Syrian regime areas are more or less dusting themselves off, thinking it could have been an awful lot worse. We have heard from Syrian state TV, pictures of the damage done to the
Barzeh research facility near Damascus, rubble there. But they do claim much of the damage claimed by the United States to the Homs facilities struck didn't actually happen. That's prevented by Syrian air defense, although it's pretty clear on satellite pictures contradicting that particular contention.
But Bashar al-Assad was clear to try and appear confident, posting a picture of him sauntering into work over nice, clear marble floors yesterday morning, as I speak now.
And the question is, what message is being taken away by the Syrian regime here?
We're seeing people on the streets, honking their horns, suggesting maybe some elements of victory from the lack of extraordinary damage done here. This was the lesser option presented to the White House in terms of a response.
But there clearly is a red line around the use of chemical weapons, a metric-like mission accomplished, Nikki Haley saying that they are, quote, "locked and loaded" to do this again, raises the question, in the case of what event?
We heard from senior U.S. officials who believe that sarin and chlorine was used in the Douma attacks but that doesn't appear to be from extensive testing of samples, though we do believe some samples have been tested at some point.
It appears to be a diagnosis from watching people in the videos of those who were dying and suffering from the attack, the muscular twitches which you get from sarin but not from chlorine.
So the question now is, with the U.S. saying that the regime used chemical weapons 50 times during the war, does it now mean that a red line is the use of chlorine?
That's quite common. So anytime a noxious gas is smelt on the battlefield, is there the potential cruise missiles will be flying?
Or is it just use of sarin, as in the case of 2013, when Barack Obama's red line and the 59 Tomahawks launched last year in April after the gas attack at Khan Shaykhun using sarin?
That is the broad question moving forward. It's clear there no U.S. longer plan for the Syrian civil war here. That will continue with the slaughter of those against the regime with conventional weapons on a daily basis.
The real issue now is what is the chemical weapons red line?
What has to be done to elicit this kind of response again? -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Northern Syria.
NOBILO: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis says these airstrikes were a, quote, "one-time shot."
VANIER: That was Friday evening. But on Saturday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., made it clear that there could be more. Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A message from Donald Trump to Bashar al-Assad and his Russian masters, firing more than 100 missiles into the heart of Syria's chemical weapons program.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I spoke to the president this morning and he said, if the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded.
STARR (voice-over): Defense Secretary James Mattis in a late-night Pentagon briefing not shutting the door to future military action but also not saying what would lead to more airstrikes.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Right now, this is a one-time shot and I believe that it sent a very strong message to dissuade him, to deter him --
MATTIS: -- from doing this again.
STARR (voice-over): It was shortly after these horrific videos emerged of an April 7th chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb that the Pentagon began planning for military strikes.
The target list: a chemical research center in Damascus and two chemical weapons and equipment storage facilities located west of Homs. After first light, as the damage emerged, the Pentagon said there were no reports of civilian casualties and all the military objectives for this strike were achieved.
LT. GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE, U.S. JOINT STAFF DIRECTOR: I believe that we took the heart of it out with the attacks that we accomplished last night. I'm not going to say that they're going to be unable to continue to conduct a chemical attack in the future.
I suspect, however, they'll think long and hard about it after based on the activities of last night.
STARR (voice-over): The strike on Syria began at 4:00 am with a barrage of 105 missiles, launched by the U.S., French and British militaries. It was carried out by three U.S. warships and a U.S. submarine.
The French also launched missiles from a frigate ship. In the air, two B-1 bombers launched strikes along with French and British fighter jets. One site, the Barzeh chemical research and development facility is located in Damascus. Missiles made it past heavy air defenses without being shot down. MCKENZIE: Because you can see, it does not exist anymore. And we believe they've lost a lot of equipment. They've lost a lot of material. And it's going to have a significant effect on them. So I think the words "cripple" and "degrade" are good, accurate words.
STARR (voice-over): But as Bashar al-Assad calmly walked into work today, it's unclear if he is hearing those words.
STARR: Behind the scenes, the Pentagon had been concerned about a possible reaction from the Russians, who have forces, of course, inside Syria, worried about escalation of the crisis. But the day after, so far, they see no real reaction from Moscow except for a lot of angry language -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
NOBILO: Let's bring in CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona now to discuss this.
Colonel, it's always great to have you on the show. Thank you.
If we could start by discussing this phrase that a lot of attention has been paid to today, the president has declared "mission accomplished" in Syria.
Do you agree?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I don't think he was referring -- or that was referring to the entire Syria policy. I think he was referring to this particular military operation. If he was limiting his remarks to that, I think it was mission accomplished: 105 missiles fired, 105 missiles hit their target, three targets; all targets severely degrade or damaged. Looks like the Barzeh facility, that target, that building complex is completely eliminated.
So, yes, from the military side of it, it was mission accomplished. As far as our operations in Syria, we're nowhere near mission accomplished.
NOBILO: The aim of this was to degrade the chemical weapons facilities in Syria.
But how many of them, roughly, are there?
Because there are three sites that were targeted here in these strikes.
And are there more stockpiles they might still have that the U.S. and its allies should be concerned about?
FRANCONA: Undoubtedly. Of course, the Syrians had a week to move some of their high-value assets out of the -- where they were stored, where we thought they were, where we knew they were. You can't keep track of all them so I'm sure some of them made it into other secure facilities. I don't think the goal was to eliminate all of them. I think the goal
was to hit that complex in Barzeh which sent a very strong message. That complex in Barzeh is in the middle of a suburb of Damascus. It is in a very densely populated area, a very protected area by air defenses. And the fact that we were able to get in there and destroy that complex really sends a strong message.
I know the Syrian people today were saying, well, Damascus is still here. Yes, Damascus is still there but that complex is not. So it sent a very strong message to the Syrian government.
I think the message is to deter, knowing full well that there are other chemical facilities in Syria, there are other stockpiles in Syria. It would be almost impossible to take all of them out in one day.
NOBILO: The objective is to deter but based on what you know and what you've studied of Bashar al-Assad's behavior, do you think that this is going to be effective in deterring the use of weapons?
And I would ask you as well that I was reading today that they expect that there may have been about 100 chemical watchdogs, chemical attacks during the Syrian conflict but they counted at least 34.
So why this time?
And do you think that Bashar al-Assad will be deterred from using them in future if it is determined that he was ultimately culpable for that?
FRANCONA: Let me address the other part first about the number of attacks.
FRANCONA: The United States seems to have drawn a line, set the bar at the use of nerve agents. If you use chlorine, that doesn't seem to cross a line for the United States.
So they were not regarding that as sufficient grounds to launch a punitive strike. But when you use nerve agents, they do. So when we saw nerve agents being used in Khan Shaykhun, it triggered the attack last year against Shayrat and, of course, now, when they used them in Douma, that triggered this particular round of strikes.
So there seems to be a difference in the kind of chemical used. I personal think that anytime you use any chemical that meets the bar. And of course I think Nick really made a great point, where it seems that it's OK to kill people with high explosives but not with chemicals. It really is a kind of a philosophical thing.
Now as for the deterrence, I think it will be effective because -- and we've talked about this earlier -- there was no need for the Syrians to use chemicals against Douma. They were on the verge of a victory there. That place was surrounded and they were pounding it every day with air and artillery. The Russians were assisting them. The Russians were negotiating with the Jaysh al-Islam, which is the jihadist group that was running Douma. They were on the verge of an agreement. There was no reason to use chemicals.
So I think what's going to happen is the Russians are going to pressure Bashar al-Assad to not use anymore chemicals because knowing that that will invite a strike. And every time we get outside powers -- I'm talking about the British, the French and the Americans, like they did last night -- you run the risk of an escalation with the Russians.
The Russians have what they want. They've got a power position in Syria. They've got the two bases in Syria. And they're going to be a power broker in Syria. They, the Iranians and the Turks, are going to decide what happens in Syria and they don't want to mess that up.
So I think they're going to put the pressure on Bashar al-Assad not to use chemicals again. He doesn't need to.
NOBILO: Rick Francona, we always appreciate it. Thank you as well for just making that important point about this distinction that there seems to be between chlorine gas and nerve agents. Thanks for joining us.
FRANCONA: My pleasure.
VANIER: Meanwhile, the Syrian regime is defiant, declaring victory in the last area near Damascus that had been held by rebels. The Syrian military says it has now cleared all insurgents from Eastern Ghouta, including the city of Douma, which is where the suspected chemical attack took place.
NOBILO: The Syrian regime labeled rebels as "terrorists" and in a statement, a top Syrian military official said, quote, "Units of our valiant armed forces, along with its allies, completed the cleansing of Eastern Ghouta in all its towns and villages. All the terrorists have left Douma city."
The Syrian military operation to retake Eastern Ghouta has been internationally condemned. The U.N. says more 130,000 civilians have fled the rebel enclave and now, many of them live in limbo in makeshift camps.
VANIER: We have a world exclusive for you. CNN is the first network to speak with survivors of this suspected chemical attack in Douma. CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon spoke with them just hours after the U.S.-led airstrikes.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And there's definitely something that stinks...
DAMON (voice-over): These backpacks belong to Malas (ph) and Betha (ph), 7-year-old twins from Douma.
They're a little shy and hesitant. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
DAMON (voice-over): Their mother, Imoor (ph), tells us they remember everything vividly.
They were hiding in a basement when the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma took place. They could barely breathe. She felt her body go limp. She clawed her way up, dragging her daughters but then the other strikes began.
"We were between two deaths," she remembers, "either from chemical strikes or the others on the rooftop."
DAMON: The smell is still quite strong because I think that they weren't able to wash yet.
Look, that's the toy that her daughter hid away to try to keep her safe and she would tell the toy, you know, you might -- you might suffocate but at least you'll be safe from the bombing. That is how -- that's how the kids' minds work.
Yesterday, they were digging a tunnel for the ants so that the ants wouldn't suffocate, just in case something happened.
DAMON (voice-over): In another tent, we meet a boy with a jagged scar running across his abdomen from shrapnel. His uncle, who doesn't want to be identified, was among the worst affected in the family in the chemical strike.
He says a blood sample was taken the day before. This new camp is inhabited with those who survived the siege of Douma. Its relentless, months-long bombing that drove families underground so that something --
DAMON (voice-over): -- as simple as feeling the sun on their skin was a luxury.
Reeve (ph) and her family thought there was a lull in the bombing and went outside, when she says three airstrikes slammed right next to them. The next thing she remembers is being in the hospital.
DAMON: She had just gotten out of surgery in the hospital when the wounded from the chemical strike, she says, began coming in.
DAMON (voice-over): The scene was so horrific, she says she forgot her own pain. What she doesn't know, what no one has the heart to tell her is that her husband is dead. Her son, just 2 years old, is too young to remember his father.
The limited U.S.-French-U.K. strikes may have sent a message to the Syrian regime about chemical weapons but not about the rest of its arsenal. For those who have endured the unimaginable, it's little more than a move on a gruesome chess board. Sixty-eight-year-old Fegzi (ph) arrived here four days ago from Douma.
She has buried too many relatives to count, including her son and two grandchildren.
DAMON: There is nothing left for them, I mean, even if they could go home, there's nothing left.
DAMON (voice-over): She says her country has caused her too much pain. And remembering the long lost days when her family was around her, when they were all alive, when feeling safe wasn't a luxury, it's all just too much -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Elbeyli (ph) Refugee Camp, Syria.
NOBILO: That is incredibly hard to watch. Some important reporting there from Arwa Damon about the pain and loss being experienced by people in Syria.
Two words brought on a lot of backlash for a U.S. president years ago. And now the same very words are doing the same thing for President Trump. We'll have the details for you ahead.
VANIER: I want to show you the aftermath of Saturday's airstrike. Buildings destroyed, smoke still rising. This was reportedly part of a research center in Damascus.
NOBILO: The U.S. says air and missile strikes launched with France and the U.K. on Saturday were a success. The strikes targeted Syria's chemical weapons program, following a suspected chemical attack on Douma last week. At least three sites were targeted, including a research facility in Damascus and storage facilities near Homs.
VANIER: The U.S. says more than 100 missiles were fired and all of them hit their target. Syria and its ally, Russia, however, deny that. They say that most missiles were intercepted and that the attack was repelled.
But videos like this show significant damage. You're looking at what's said to have been a research facility in Damascus.
On Twitter, Donald Trump thanked France and Britain for their help in carrying out the mission but that's not what the tweet will be remembered for.
NOBILO: Two words at the end of the tweet are raising eyebrows and those two words are "mission accomplished." CNN's Jim Acosta explains.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a sobering message delivered to Syria, backed by U.S. military might.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.
ACOSTA: While the Pentagon insists U.S. forces, along with Britain and France, achieved their objectives in striking Syrian chemical weapons targets, it's one of President Trump's tweets that may have misfired.
Celebrating the operation the president tweeted, "A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine military. Could not have had a better result. Mission accomplished!"
That phrase, "mission accomplished," was a flashback to 2003, when then President Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and declared victory in Iraq, a war that continued for eight more years. Over Bush's shoulder was a banner reading, "Mission Accomplished."
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
ACOSTA: Even Mr. Trump's supporters are cringing. Former Bush Secretary Ari Fleischer weighed in on Mr. Trump's tweets, saying, "I would have recommended ending this tweet with not those two words."
Asked about the president's confidence the Pentagon didn't disagree with the commander in chief.
DANA WHITE, CHIEF PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: Last night, operations were very successful. We met our objectives. We hit the sites. The heart of the chem weapons program. So it was mission accomplished.
ACOSTA: Still, on a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official conceded the airstrikes may not have neutralized the chemical weapons threat in Syria, saying, "If this does not succeed we will be prepared to act again," which means the age-old questions that come with every U.S. intervention have returned.
How does the U.S. define success and how long will that take?
Two weeks after Mr. Trump raised the prospect of removing U.S. troops from Syria...
TRUMP: I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.
ACOSTA: -- Democrats are raising questions.
REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D): I cannot tell you what this administration's policy is towards Syria. One week ago he was talking about entirely pulling out. That ended up giving -- appeared to give a green light to Assad.
And you saw how Assad took that green light and ran with it in terms of gassing innocents, including women and children.
ACOSTA: The other looming question is how to handle Syria's two biggest backers, Russia and Iran.
TRUMP: To Iran and to Russia I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?
ACOSTA: Vice-President Pence continued that tough talk at the Summit of the Americas in Peru.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our message to Russia is, you're on the wrong side of history.
ACOSTA: President Trump will face more of these questions about Syria next week when he meets with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe down at Mar-a-lago. The president will be splitting his time, discussing the fate of another rogue nation with weapons of mass destruction: that is, North Korea -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
NOBILO: A survivor of one of the first chemical attacks attributed to the Syrian regime is praising President Trump's decision to strike. The gas attack in 2013 targeted Ghouta not far from the scene of the latest apparent chemical attack.
VANIER: Then U.S. president Barack Obama was criticized at the time for not enforcing his so-called red line on the use of chemical weapons. Kassem Eid survived that attack and earlier he spoke with our colleague, Ana Cabrera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASSEM EID, SURVIVOR, SYRIAN 2017 SARIN GAS ATTACK: I just want to tell Mr. Trump directly I'm a Syrian refugee, who survived chemical weapons attacks --
EID: -- who's lived under two years of siege and bombardment by the government.
I would love to like buy you a beer and just sit in front of you and tell you how bad it is in Syria, how you should listen to your heart, not listen to your generals. You proved once again yesterday that you have a big heart, at least a lot more bigger than Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Let's get some perspective now on the politics of the airstrikes in Syria. We're joined by Jessica Levinson, professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School and she joins us now from Los Angeles.
Jessica, thanks for joining us. Let's talk about who President Trump has to appeal to when discussing these strikes.
We've heard someone who was affected by chemical weapons attack, who was praising the president. He has his base to consider and his political opponents, who really have been giving him conditional support on this and then he has his allies and his oppositions.
So what do you think the president's priority is out of all those groups?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well, I'm going to pick everybody's least favorite answer, all of the above, essentially. You've just outlined all the stakeholders that have a very real interest in what happens here.
And I think that President Trump's policy has actually indicated this schizophrenic nature of not just the American public but a lot of people's views when it comes to this conflict in Syria.
On the one hand, there is a humanitarian crisis and we need to address that and President Trump often feels he wants to be the quote-unquote "strong man" in the room, saying I am doing something real, immediately.
On the other hand, there are many members of the American public regardless of their partisan affiliation who feel, I am very worried about being dragged into a war in the Middle East that could cost a lot of American lives and a lot of bloodshed.
And so I think he's having to appeal to a number of different stakeholders, again, and trying to address those two somewhat competing concerns, which is not like threading a needle, it's like threading a needle while standing on your head during an earthquake.
VANIER: Jessica, what about those words "mission accomplished" in that tweet?
It became the punchline of the Iraq War and the way that George W. Bush had handled it.
Do you think it's something critics can hang around the neck of this president?
LEVINSON: I think it's really unfortunate and I agree with former press secretary Ari Fleischer. He just simply shouldn't have used it and anyone who has thought about history not in the long term but in the short term knows that that term is so loaded.
I would say I think one of the biggest drawbacks actually to the fact that he used "mission accomplished" isn't that it was so -- it was such a case of foot-in-mouth disease; it's that we're talking about his use of mission accomplished and it's sucking up a lot of oxygen in the room instead of talking about the fact that it seems to be that we don't have a coherent policy and we need one. Because what just I saw on the TV with all your other viewers was kids
being gassed and dying. And so the president using these two words I think is really unfortunate for a number of reasons, one of which is it's obscuring the real conversation.
NOBILO: And Jessica, do you think the president's intentions in Syria might be changing because he said "mission accomplished" in regard to the fact that they were trying to degrade chemical weapons facilities in Syria but then also in his remarks last night, he was alluding to the United States playing a bigger role in the Middle East.
Did you recognize that, too?
LEVINSON: Yes. And I think that frankly this is consistent with a lot of the inconsistencies that President Trump has previously discussed, which is he has said a number of things. We should pull out of Syria, he said, just a few weeks ago.
And then, on the other hand, he said we need a proportional response. And this attack shows the benefits and detriments of a proportional response with respect to the specific incursion of chemical -- use of chemical agents.
And I think what that really shows is that President Trump tends to put Syria in two different boxes and he tends to see there is the war against ISIS, which he thinks we're winning, and then there's a civil war, which he seems to have no real appetite for. I think that the misread as many people have acknowledged, those two different boxes are actually very much intertwined.
And that's why I think what we hear from President Trump is consistently being inconsistent on this issue.
NOBILO: That's a very good point and can you really solve one issue without addressing the other?
I think that's unlikely. Jessica, thank you for joining us.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
VANIER: Stay with us, we'll be back after this short break and we'll have continued coverage on U.S., French and British strikes on Syria. We'll tell you what we're finding out about how the targets were hit.
VANIER: Those are some of the missile launches from Saturday's strikes on Syria. The U.S. says 105 missiles were fired from naval and air platforms in the Red Sea, Northern Arabian Gulf and from the Mediterranean. The U.S. said the air and missile strikes launched with France and the U.K. on Saturday were a success. They targeted Syria's chemical weapons program after that suspected chemical attack last week.
At least three sites were targeted: a research facility in Damascus as well as two storage facilities near Homs.
NOBILO: Syria says most of the missiles were intercepted and the attack was repelled but videos like this one show significant damage. We're looking at what's said to have been a research facility in Damascus.
We know warships, aircraft and missiles were used in the strikes against Syria.
VANIER: For a closer look at those weapons, here is CNN's military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: President Trump, aided by allies in Great Britain and France, launched strikes into Syria to punish Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons against his --
KIRBY: -- own people.
Let's take a look at what they hit, why they hit it and what they hit them with and the complexity of the mission. We'll start with the targets, three targets were hit, two up in Homs. These were storage facilities. One down in Damascus, a research and development center.
All three chosen very carefully to bloody Assad's nose when it comes to his chemical weapons program, to degrade that program and to send a strong message about international resolve against the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people but also done in a way that it could be as precise as possible.
And we can show you exactly how precise these targets were hit. Let's take a look at the Barzeh research facility. Now looking at this area right up here, this was taken a couple of weeks ago. You can see three buildings there.
And this is before the strikes; this is what it looks like after the strikes. You can see that all three of those buildings are completely obliterated but all the surrounding buildings, even the sidewalks and roads, all left completely untouched.
That is what precision guided munitions can do for a mission.
Now how do you actually get those munitions on target?
Well, lots of assets at sea and in the air were used; several ships at sea in the Med, the Red Sea and also down here in the North Arabian Sea, launching Tomahawk missiles. In fact, 70 percent of the precision guided munitions that were used in the strike were Tomahawks, the work horse of the Navy.
They've had them in since 1970. They've been updated periodically ever since, very capable cruise missile, 20 feet in length. It flies at subsonic speeds but very low and close to the ground.
So it's very hard for air defense systems to detect. And that makes it a very, very challenging platform to try to shoot down. It doesn't appear like any of the Tomahawks were hit by any air defense systems despite what the Syrians are saying.
The Pentagon is very sure that all of them found their targets. But it wasn't just sea-launched cruise missiles that were involved. There were air-launched cruise missiles from the British, from the French and from the Americans.
And you can see how many, each of were flown, notably this B-1 bomber probably based out of Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar was launching these JASSMs, 19 JASSMs, joint air-to-surface standoff missile. It's basically a Tomahawk for the air. It has roughly the same range, 650 miles but it's a much more advanced missile, much more technologically capable.
It has infrared homing and it has something called automatic target recognition. So in the very end game of the missile strike, the very terminal phases, it can dynamically choose its targets, very, very capable.
When the president talked about new and smart missiles, he was talking about these JASSMs. The British and the French also have air-launched cruise missiles with standoff ranges of about 300 miles. It's essentially the same missile, even though they call it by a different name.
So a very complex mission, very precisely executed. The real question now is, is it going to be enough to deter Assad from using chemical weapons again?
And will the United States now embark on a more robust diplomatic strategy to end the civil war in Syria?
NOBILO: John Kirby there.
There were bitter exchanges at the U.N. Security Council on Saturday. The U.S. and Russia traded recriminations over the allied airstrikes against Syria.
VANIER: Our senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth was there and he sent us this report.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: The Western military strike on Syria failed to resolve considerable differences here at the U.N. Security Council table. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said her country remains "locked and loaded," should there be another poison gas attack on the people of Syria.
Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, said Washington was guilty of "hooliganism." Russia, China and Bolivia said United States was violating the international charter. Russia proposed a resolution to the Security Council, which would have condemned what it called U.S. aggression on Syria and a violation of the charter.
However, Moscow was unable to obtain the needed nine votes to get this resolution through and it wouldn't have passed, anyway, because the U.S., U.K. and France, those that attacked Syria, would have vetoed it.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez pleaded with the major powers on the Council to come together and finally work out a political solution to the problems of Syria. France and the U.K. insisted the strike was aboveboard and did not violate the international charter.
Many members of the Security Council remain furious that a chemical weapons attack occurred yet again on the people of Syria and the differences here among Russia and the United States are not going away.
In fact, there's another Council meeting on Wednesday, when the Salisbury, England, chemical weapons attack on a former spy and his daughter, once again, the subject of a debate here -- Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.
NOBILO: U.S. officials now say sarin and chlorine were likely used in last week's chemical attack in Syria.
And just ahead, our chief medical correspondent explains exactly --
NOBILO: -- what these gases do to the human body.
NOBILO: You're looking at some of the damage from the strikes on Syria early Saturday. This rubble used to be buildings, reportedly part of a scientific research lab in the Barzeh district of Damascus.
Hours after the attack, you could still see the smoke rising. The coalition military strikes targeted Syria's chemical weapons program in retaliation for last week's alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma. VANIER: You need to be warned, some of these images are difficult to
watch. But the video purports to show people being treated after the attack. Dozens of people were reportedly killed; 500 people reportedly showing signs of chemical exposure.
Senior U.S. officials say they're confident that both chlorine and sarin gas were used. Syria has denied, however, using chemical weapons.
Despite Syria's denials, since 2013, the U.N. has investigated this and they've investigated 34 chemical weapons attacks. They concluded that the Syrian government was behind 26 of them. Many used chlorine or sarin gas.
NOBILO: CNN's Anderson Cooper discussed the dangers of these gases with chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Sanjay, can you explain what it is about sarin that is so particularly awful, what it does to the body?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is sort of like a pesticide on humans, Anderson. It's extremely lethal and works really fast. And I think the best way of putting is that your bodies are constantly getting these signals that basically tell your motors, for example, to turn on and to turn off. That's constantly happening.
What this does, it sort of sticks everything in the on mode. So everything just goes on and stays on. Your eyes start to water, your nose runs, your lungs start making fluid, your muscles start to seize up.
It is very painful. Ultimately, the diaphragm, which allows you to breathe, that also becomes paralyzed and that ultimately causes someone to die. So it's a terrible thing and what I've described, this sort of pesticide-like effect on the body, can happen within minutes.
COOPER: Why is it harder to detect when it is used?
GUPTA: When looking at sarin gas, we actually look at it, it's a liquid. You see it in a liquid form. When it is used as a weapon of terror like this, it's put out there, it starts to basically turn into this gas. It is colorless and it is odorless. It's not something that you can obviously detect just with the naked eye.
So you wouldn't even know you'd been exposed until you start to have symptoms. That makes it really, really frightening and also because it starts to vaporize quickly, it can be hard to find enough to actually test.
When you do test it, you to find little samples quickly. And sometimes, it will break down and you've got to find the by-products quickly. All of that is just a lot of testing. And typically what happens is you just don't have time for that. You're in a dangerous situation. You can't get those samples.
COOPER: What about chlorine?
How do the effects of chlorine differ from sarin?
GUPTA: Chlorine can cause some similar symptoms but for a totally different reason. What chlorine does is when it hits water or in some of the areas of your body that are more water rich, it'll essentially turn into hydrochloric acid, which is terrible, obviously. You can imagine breathing in this chlorine gas. It is interacting now with the back of your throat, your mucosa, where some of that water-dense tissue is. And it's turning into acid. It's awful. It's painful. It can obviously get into your lungs and you could have some of those same breathing problems. It might be confused initially with sarin.
But again, with sarin, your pupils will constrict, your nose will run, your muscles will seize up. There are going to be clearly different symptoms, more symptoms, quicker symptoms with sarin versus chlorine.
COOPER: How do you treat people who are suffering from an attack?
GUPTA: One thing you've got to keep in mind is if it gets on skin and on the clothes, then even the people who are now treating someone who've been exposed to sarin are also at risk.
So right away, if you suspect a sarin attack and -- in the medical community, the doctors, nurses who are the first responders, have to immediately do things to protect themselves, make sure it doesn't get onto their skin, that they're not breathing it in, number one.
Number two is you've basically got to try and reduce as much of the exposure that the individual has, taking off their clothes, basically scrubbing them down, making sure you get all the sarin that you can off of them.
There are antidotes, Anderson. You may remember, when we've been coverage conflicts overseas, we're typically given packs, including a substance known as atropine. And atropine is an antidote that can be used for sarin. It has to be given very quickly. So if you don't have it, obviously, you're not going to have it.
But even if you have it, you may not suspect, you may not know you've had a sarin attack so it may be too late by the time you use it.
COOPER: That is awful. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate it, thanks.
GUPTA: Yes, thank you. Anderson.
VANIER: Stay with us. We're back right after this.
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NOBILO: Welcome back. We want to recap the latest out of Syria. The U.S. says air and missile strikes launched with France and the U.K. on Saturday were a success. The strikes Syria's chemical weapons program following a suspected chemical attack on Douma last week.
At least three sites were targeted. They include a research facility in Damascus and storage facilities near Homs.
VANIER: The U.S. says more than 100 missiles were fired and all of them hit their targets. Now Syria and its ally, Russia, deny that, however. They say that most of the missiles were actually intercepted and that the attack was repelled.
But videos like these say otherwise. They show significant damage. You're looking at what's said to have been a research facility in Damascus.
The Tomahawk cruise missile has been the U.S. military's go-to weapon in airstrikes like the one against Syria.
NOBILO: CNN's Gary Tuchman got a rare look inside the factory where they are made and here is what he found.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Tomahawk is considered the world's most advanced cruise missile. It's been used in combat more than 2,000 times by the U.S. Navy from Syria to Sudan to Serbia. And all the new Tomahawks come out of one factory, this one in a city and state we've been asked not to reveal for security reasons.
The 20-foot-long Tomahawks are manufactured by The Raytheon Company. Kim Ernzen is one of Raytheon's top missile executives.
KIM ERNZEN, V.P., RAYTHEON: This is the final configuration before it goes out the door to our customer. In this facility is where we do the integration of the rocket motors and the warheads, what we call the energetics elements of the missiles.
Other components and set assemblies come from our other factories, located here. And then we do the finally assembly here, test it, fuel it and get it ready to go out the door.
TUCHMAN: How soon will these be going out the door?
ERNZEN: In the next couple of days.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In this factory, 14 Tomahawks are about to be shipped out. Workers here are performing what they call a roll test to make sure there is nothing loose inside the missile and that everything is connected properly.
Historically, Raytheon's contract with the Navy is for at least 196 missiles each year.
ERNZEN: Tomahawks can fly 1,000-plus miles. So it can get launched from a ship or a submarine. It can go up and loiter, as we call it, where it can fly around in a figure 8.
TUCHMAN: So in other words, once it's sent off, if you want to change where it's going --
TUCHMAN: -- just goes in a circle -
ERNZEN: It can be redirected and rerouted to a specific target.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Tomahawk has been around since the 1980s. But this is the newest version of the missile, manufactured since 2004. It can be used for up to 30 years and Tomahawks that haven't been used come back after 15 years for recertification and upgrades.
ERNZEN: So this is the rocket motor that launches it out of the vertical live system. So it is what propels it out. So when --
ERNZEN: -- you see the footage of a missile coming out of a ship, it is the plume that gets it out of that vertical launch.
As you move more up toward the front is the navigation, communications system and then ultimately up here at the very end is the warhead. And it is a 1,000-pound warhead.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): With their GPS guidance, the Tomahawks can strike within mere feet of a target. They're launched from ships or submarines.
ERNZEN: It comes from a submarine, it will then swim through the water. The rocket motor will take it up out of the water and then will eventually get it up into the airplane mode, which is where it will fly and perform its mission from there.
TUCHMAN: So it swims and it flies?
ERNZEN: It swims and it flies.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The price tag per missile, about $1.1 million. Each Tomahawk weighs about 3,500 pounds. So when 66 of them are fired toward Syria, that was about 231,000 pounds of firepower.
People who work here tell us this isn't just a job.
ERNZEN: It is an honor to be able to work for the men and women in uniform and to be able to supply them with a competitive advantage when they're put in harm's way. And that's what we do. We make sure that they have an unfair advantage out in theater. TUCHMAN: So that's what you say, that this gives the U.S. military an unfair advantage?
ERNZEN: Absolutely. And we want to keep it that way.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN.
NOBILO: We'll have more of our continuing coverage of the strike on Syria.
VANIER: Back after this. Stay with us.