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tv   News  Al Jazeera  September 30, 2015 2:00pm-3:01pm EDT

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>> you're looking at live pictures at the pentagon where just a few minutes secretary of defense ash carter is expected to give a briefing to discuss the news today that russia has launched it's first airstrike inside syria. welcome to al jazeera america. thank you for joining us. i'm richelle carey. this is a major development in what is a fight against isil and syria. russia announced the first airstrike inside that war-torn country. we're expecting reaction from the obama administration, from secretary of defense ash carter. this conference is expected to start at any moment now. we'll bring it to you life as soon as it does.
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let me bring in my colleague from washington, correspondent mike viqueira. in some ways we knew this was coming. we're still not exactly sure what it means, though. just yesterday actually two days ago now, i'm losing my days here. at the unga, vladimir putin kind of tipped his hand a little bit that he might escalate in syria, but there has been troop build up there and equipment build up of about 30 days. off to the sidelines barack obama and vladimir putin met, speaking about what should happen about this escalation. pick it up from there. >> you're absolutely right. no one is surprised that russia has engaged in these airstrikes. the question is how they've been about it, why they've gone about it, and who these airstrikes are targeting.
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russia gave the united states one hour notice saying we're going to be starting these airstrikes. the second problem, who are they hitting. the u.s. coalition has flown hundreds of mission but targeting only isil forces. president putin while in new york in the united nations said he does want to take the fight to isil. his priority is to defend and bolster the assad regime, that is the conflict here diplomac diplomatly and politically, that they stay consistent that bashar al-assad has to go if there is going to be any resolution to the war in syria now if it's fifth year. the other question is who are they hitting? they talked about the targets that are going on here. the targets that russia is
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sending its warplanes out again. now earlier today we heard john kerry at the united nations saying on there in a conference on anti-terrorism, as it happens, chaired by russia and their foreign minister sergei lavrov. kerry made no bones about it saying this is an alarming development. here is more of what he had to say. >> we also made clear that we would have grave concerns should russia strike areas where isil and al qaeda affiliated targets are now operating, are not operating. strikes that have kind would question russia's real intentions fighting isil or protecting the assad regime. >> the other problem, deconfriction, insuring that u.s.-led warplanes, coalition warplanes do not come in military contact with russian planes flying in defense of the assad regime. and here is the third problem, a major problem here richelle
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carey. that is face to face when vladimir putin and president obama met on the margins of the united nations assembly on monday afternoon, you remember that tense and awkward handshake at the on set of their 90-minute meeting, one of the topics was deconfriction, to make sure that these forces do not strike each other. but the problem is that the talks never got under way. the united states have been caught flat footed. everyone expected the russian planes to fly these missions against the forces in defense of bashar al-assad, people are caught flat footed here. there is no question about it in washington on the timing. among the other aspects the troubles of the political makers in washington we're going to hear from ash carter, secretary of defense, very shortly. >> i think this further complicates a situation in a no one has a handle on to begin with. i'll bring in my colleagues. my colleague, courtney, is it
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fair to say that this will further entrench the opposition forces now that they have these airstrikes coming in from syria, and at the same time some of these opposition forces that may in some situations be allies of the united states are now going to be the targets of russian airstrikes? >> let's see, several topics i want to cover today. let me again with syria. last week i observed from this podium as i had observed privately to russian minister the week prior, that there is a logical contradiction in the russian position and now its actions. in syria. russia states an intent to fight isil on one hand, and to support
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bashar al-assad and his regime on the other. fighting isil without pursuing a parallel political transition only risks escalating the civil war in syria, and with it the very extremism and instability that moscow claims to be concerned about and aspires to fighting. so this approach, that approach is tantamount, as i said then, to pouring gas lea gasoline on the fire. in contrast our position is clear, that a lasting defeat of isil, an extremism in syria, can only be achieved in parallel with the political transition in syria. we will continue to insist on the importance of simultaneously
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pursuing these two objectives. i would hope that russia would join us in pursuing these objectives, which they claim to share in parallel rather than in sequence that cannot be succeed. during my phone call with the minister, i was prepared to send the dod team at a location to be agreed upon to be sure we avoid any inadvertent incidences over syrian air space. i proceeded with such a meeting as soon as possible. that is in the next few days. our goals for this meeting are the following: to facilitate the flow of information between coalition forces and russian elements that will help us maintain the safety of our personnel in the region, which is critical. to insure that any additional
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russian actions do not interview with our coalition efforts to degrade and defeat isil. and to clarify that broader u.s. security commitments in the region remain unchanged. as i've said before we will deliver a lasting defeat to isil with a global coalition of over 60 nations were taking the fight to isil across the physical, virtual and ideological battle space. the coalition has conducted 7100 airstrikes, hampering isil's movement and operations and systematically targeting this terrorist group's leadership, and the coalition will continue to fly missions over iraq and syria as planned as we did today in support of our international mission to degrade and destroy isil. as we pursue the defense level talks with russia on syria, i want to be absolutely clear that these talks will not in any way diminish our strong condemnation
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of russian aggression in ukrai ukraine. or change our sanctions or security support in response to those destabilizing actions. on that subject the facts remain, if russia wants to end it's international isolation and be considered a global power, it must stop its aggression in eastern ukraine and it's occupation and attempt of anne annexation of crimea and live up to its commitments under the minsk agreement. next let me say a few words about the immediate budget en pass that we find ourselves facing in washington. it appears that we'll avoid the trauma of a government shutdown for now. that's not enough. it's not enough for our troops. it's not enough for the defense of our country. because this is more--it is about more than just the
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short-term damage of a temporary shutdown. it's also about the accumulat ing and lasting damage that comes from a paycheck-to-paycheck approach for budgeting the defense of our country. we need to innovate. we need to continue to attract the best people to develop the next generation of capabilities and to meet the current generation of threats. yet again we face the real risk that political gridlock will hold us back. without a negotiating budget solution in which everyone comes together at last, we will again return to sequestration-level funding, reducing discretionary spending to its lowest real level in a decade, despite the fact that members of both parties agree that this result will harm national security the alternative to a budget deal,
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long term resolution is merely sequester-level funding under a different name. the longer the resolution is the worse it becomes eventually resulting in a $38 billion deficit in resources for our military if congress chooses to pursue this path for the full year. now the department of defense has done it's best to manage this prolonged period of budget uncertainty seven years in a row of continuing resolutions making painful choices and tradeoffs between size, capabilities and readiness of the joint force. but the world has not stood still. russia and china have advanced their new capabilities and new imperatives such as insuring a lasting defeat of isil have emerged. in this kind of security environment we need to be dynamic and responsive.
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we would be forced to make irresponsible reductions when our choices should be considered carefully and strategically. making these kinds of indiscriminate cuts is inefficient and therefore wasteful to tax payers and industry. it's dangerous for our strategy. and frankly it's emgear racing in front of the world. most importantly to me for our men and women serving our national defense and their families it adds an absolutely undeserved element of uncertainty about their future. finally, as we plan for the force of the future, i note the reports that will be submitted by service leaders today to the chairman with their recommendations on positions they plan to open to women. as well as any exceptions to opening all combat specialties to women. when i myself review these
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reports over coming months i will be focused on the quality of information and the analyst behind the recommendations. i want to hear from everyone, but i'm less interested in who said what, but why they're saying it. and to be clear i will carefully review the information analysis from all four services and special operations command to make my final determination. as second of defense i'm committed to seeing this through because attracting the best and staying the best means wherever possible we must open ourselves to the talents and strengths of all americans who can contribute with excellence to our force. as i've said before everyone who is able and willing to serve and can meet the standards we require should have the full opportunity to do so. i look forward to your questions on this or any other topics.
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>> mr. secretary, do you believe based on what you have seen and heard today that russia has been targeting isil in the strikes that they took overnight, or do you believe that they attacked perhaps some other opposition forces that that have been waging war against assad, and can you-- >> we have--we have been observing russian activities, and i don't want to go into detail about that at this time. but the--the reason that--one of the reasons why the russian position is contradictory is that the exactly the potential for them to strike as they may well have in places where, in fact, isil is not present. others are present. this is one of the reasons why the result of this kind of action will inevitably simply be
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to inflame the civil war in syria. and why therefore it's i will advised to take this kind of action in support of assad only without pursuing a political transition there. that's why we're trying to get them in that same position. your question exposes the fallacy in the russian approach, and why it's doomed to failure. >> is that--is that just--if i understood your answer, are you saying, then, that the strikes were in a place where you believe there were no isil fighters, and therefore leads you to that? >> again, i want to be careful about confirming information, but it does appear that they were in areas where there was
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probably not isil forces. that is precisely one of the problems with this whole approach. >> mr. secretary? >> you've been dealing with the russians for years. so the russian general shows up at the embassy in baghdad, and apparently reads a note saying that airstrikes will begin in one hour. what do you make of that? is that, as secretary of defense, is that acceptable military-to-military relations with you? and where does this lead you if you sit down and talk with the russian military about a way ahead. is this not a little bizarre? >> well, you're right, i have been dealing with them for a long time, and this is not the kind of behavior that we would expect professionally from the russian military professionally. that's one reason why i think it's good to have an avenue of communication that is less unprofessional than a drop-in where we can talk about
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professional defense matters. but i think also, and this is something that will occur in diplomatic channels, it's important to see if we can get russians in a position where they are coming to understand the contradiction and the position that they now have, and the possibility seen as political transition and defeating extremism is something that you have to pursue to succeed in syria, maybe they could make a constructive contribution. but they're not on the path of doing that in the way that they're doing now. >> what are your concerns for u.s. military pie lasting defeat right now. >> well, we're always concerned about the possibility of inadvertent incident and lack of communication. that's why it's important to have communication in the air. that's the reason for the talks.
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>> secretary, have you spoken again with your--why haven't you spoken with your russian counterpart, even as all of this is happening and as secretary kerry has spoken with his counterpart. given the fact that there is a considerable greater risk of the u.s. pilot carrying out these missions without coordination in any way with the russians, are you taking any actions with potential-- >> well, the next step, the next step in and the next dialogue will be in the professional defense to defense channel. that's the next step. that's the next step that we discussed, with our president and president putin a couple of days ago. i understand that secretary kerry is speaking with minister lavrov. i think these discussions are good. it doesn't mean that you gray, but you have the opportunity to
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clarify where we think the russians are making a mistake. >> whewill you be speaking with your counterpart? >> i will not rule that out. i think these personal contacts are good. i've done that many years in my course of th my career, but that will not be the next step. >> we wanted to ask about women in combat. the marines have asked for a waiver barring women from some ground and combat infantry units. >> let me back up, i don't want to characterize, there are no recommendations made to me yet. remember the process here, which is the services are doing analysis. what they owe to first the chairman and ultimately to me by the end of the year is their
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analys analysis, their studies, their thoughts about which specialties if any should be left closed to women, and importantly, how they intend to make any adaptations that are required. it's all important. the only point i want to make at this juncture, since it will be some months before these things make their way to me, and i do want to give the chairman the time as has been planned, to have him look at them. i'm going to be very facts based and analysis based. i want to see the grounds upon which any actions that we take at the first of the year will be made. that's what i'll be looking at. >> in their summary, women are less lethal--
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>> i'm not going to characterize, tom. these things have not come to me. >> mr. secretary, back to syria, as secretary of defense, were you notified in advance that russia will conduct airstrikes in syria? did you have the information that they would be moving towards that target? >> well, we've been watching there, and i think it's been widely reported there that their deployment of aircraft. certainly both in the congress--in the conversations with our president and our minut discussions that they had the desire and intention to conduct operations. you heard about a communication this very morning about the specific activity that happened today. so that's the way we have learned.
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>> back to the deacon fliction issues. is it important to tell the russians that when we conduct airstrikes, as we conducted aairstrikes over aleppo today. >> let's see what comes from these conversations about the best way and the kinds of n to exchange our that's the purpose of the talks, to decide what kind of information is important to exchange to avoid incidents. >> yes secretary kerry said that russia's involvement with syria could be an opportunity for the united states. do you agree? >> well, what i what i said is that it could be. not in the form that they now conceive it. at least how they stated and
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they described it to me. i tried to instill that in the contradiction saying on one hand we want to fight extremism, and on the other hand supporting assad. we believe those are in contradiction of one another. two of russia's objectives, they would have to change their position. to change from assad to a government that would end the civil war to preserve some level of decency and good order. if they came to the position in
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trying our objective and fighting in extremism our interest would have overlap. whenever you have overlapping interests you have the possibility of cooperating. so i hope we get to that point. but that would require a change for this current position, which is as i said just not logical. the two pieces of it don't match up. >> since they just announced military-to-military talks will begin, were you not surprise that the russians would start their airstrikes before the talks started? and when they do start, how will that slow down the situation against isis when they have to de conflict. >> we have agreed for quite some time that we were going to get
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these talks under way just as soon as we could agree on a mutually on a place and a time. we've agreed upon that now. those will get under way within days. and i think they will be very constructive. to the second part of your question, we intend to continue to conduct the air operations the entire coalition does to come back isil and other extremists in syria as we have been doing. we don't intend to make any changes in our air operations. >> what responsibility does the coalition have to protect those opposition forces, opposition fighters from airstrikes from russia. >> your question points up the whole contradiction here in the
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russian position, which is by taking on--which will be supporting assad and seemingly take on everybody who is fighting assad, you're taking on the whole rest of the country of syria. that is not our position. we believe that at least some parts of the anti-assad opposition, it's the central reason why russian approach here is doomed to fail. i hope that they come over to a point of view where they try to pursue their objectives in a different way. that makes more sense, first of all, and second of all, one in which we can share in some
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extent and share in a common way. >> the responsibility for that, for protecting them. we heard in the past that the coalition has a responsibility to protect opposition forces. specifically the ones that are trained by the u.s. but the larger opposition forces, what is the coalition responsibility if they're coming under airstrikes by the russians? they're coming under airstrikes by the assad regime? >> we've conducted air operations against isil, al nusra, and other targets that is not our practice to to conduct air operations against all those who are fighting assad for the reason that i've now--i keep coming back to, which is to simply defend assad and not to pursue a political transition is
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only going to fuel the opposition and therefore the extremism and the violence. >> on the national offense opposition. you made out the budget in sequestration, are you going to recommend-- >> yes, they have already indicated if in the authorization act. yes, it is the same position. >> the message that the world is in flames, and you're going to recommend vetoing the defense policy bill. isn't that a contradiction here? >> no, what we need first of all is an appropriations bill that funds the department.
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the bill contains some of the authorities. at the moment the authorization bill makes no appropriations at all, as you well know. number one. number two, it attempts to evade the question of overall fiscal responsibility with the so-called oco gimmick, which is to me is questionable, and it is to me, and ought to be to the taxpayer and to the war fighter and it makes provisions that are objectionable to me. i'll give you examples. we've proposed for several years now changes, reforms that extend from healthcare to force structure to better spend the defense dollar in areas where better national security benefit is obtained.
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in the national authorization act some of those reforms are key reforms. billions of dollars a year earmarked reforms that are disallowed, not authorized. that is not okay with me. that's takes dollars, which i already regard as short for national defense, and using them in a way which we, the department's leadership, has for several years determined is not in the national interest. so i need to be able to say to the taxpayer both that we need every dollar we're given, and that we're using it in the best possible way. the national defense authorization act, several provisions of it--this is not a new thing. this is longstanding. do not take into account what has been the adjustment of the department about reforms that we think are needed. there are several reasons why
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this is not a good bill. these are not mysteries. we've been very clear right along about all of these things. so i don't think there is any doubt what our position is with respect to the veto. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i have two quick questions. the syrian opposition groups are saying that civilians were killed in the attacks in strikes by russia today, and the coalition president is encouraging now more than ever a no-fly zone to protect civilians, is that being discussed here at the pentagon, and also you mentioned that the talks were going to be to avoid incident and to avoid actions that would interfere in the fight against isil. but isn't the fact that a russian general would come and ask the united states to stay out of the syrian air space, is that not already interfering with the fight against isil? >> let's see, you've got several things there. to get to the last part, let me
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say it again, we will continue our air operations unimpeded. i think you're asking about the possibility that the russian airstrikes may have hit civilians. i cannot confirm that. that would be yet again a reason why this kind of action by the russians is i will advised and will backfire. we are very careful to make sure that those who we are targeting are isil, al nusra and other extremists of that kind, and we're exceptionally careful about trying to avoid civilian casualties. that's something that we work hard at, all the coalition partners do, and it's something that requires a lot of care and practice and experience. so this is, again, i can't confirm that that occurred, but
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if it occurred, it's yet another reason why this kind of russian action can and will backfire very badly on russia. i would like to get them in a different place, in a more sensible place. >> are you confident that the russians are acting in good faith, or do you think that perhaps they may be messing with you? >> i take my--the russians at their word. they're exceptionally clear about what they're saying, and their actions seem to reflect what they said they were going to do. so my problem isn't that i don't understand what they're doing. i think that my problem is that i think what they're doing is going to backfire. and it is counterproductive. >> they're going to after isil.
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>> i'll come back to you. >> aside from the sequencing aspect that you talked about, the bombing of isil, and then working out a political transition, putting that aside for a moment. would you and other u.s. leaders welcome russian bombing, not only of isil, but of al nusra, and khorasan groups. >> i think that the president has made it clear. it ought to be clear to anybody that anybody who wants to join in the fight against isil or join the coalition of 60 countries who have made that same determination, this is something, an evil that must be defeated. you're right, it is isil and other extremist groups of the
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same ilk. yes. those are the ones that we and the coalition are combating, and obviously we welcome contributions to that. and again, if the russians change their approach to one that is--that doesn't have the contradictions that this one does, that would be a basis, an welcome basis of cooperation because it is very easy to understand why the russians are concerned about isil. they have experience with islamic extremism also, sad and bitter experience. so i can well understand. on the other hand i think that this kind of action is only going to exacerbate that tendency for them to find themselves in the bull's eye. >> secretary, time for one more? secretary, back when you were acquisition chief, you said
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there would be more mergers and acquisitions of the defense companies in the coming years. we've been seeing that culminating with lockheed and there have been concerns that deals like this will eliminate competition. what is your assessment of these mergers, and are they starting to go too far? >> i comment on that particular case. that's being determined at this time. i do remember that back then. what i said then and still believe that it was important to avoid excessive consolidation to the point where we did not have multiple vendors who could compete with one another on many programs, and to the point where we had vertical integrations that made competition among some
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contractors for work on primes less competitive. so we do need a competitive marketplace to the extent that's possible. within the defense ministry. we thought that then and i think that now. at the time i indicated that i at that time in that role, and i feel the same way now, didn't welcome further consolidation among the very large prime contractors. i didn't think it was good for our defense marketplace, and therefore for the taxpayer in the long run. >> could you follow up so we make sure. >> just to be sure, you're saying that you find exception--i'm giving you an opportunity to clarify. >> one more. >> i want to understand what you said that the you believe the russians are being true to their word, you're taking to their word, they're being honest?
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>> they've said--let me be very clear with you. there is no contradiction there. they have said quite clearly that they intend to deploy forces in syria and conduct strikes there, and they have done that. and if you're asking me if i was surprised at that, i'm not because they've been saying now for a couple of weeks that they're going to be doing that, and as many in this room have reported, they've accumulated the wherewithal to do it. thank you all very much. appreciate it. >> defense secretary ash carter not mincing words. not impressed with the approach the russians have taken when it comes to syria. he has used the words doomed to fail twice, ill-advised and he feels this approach is going to backfire. the approach that the russians have been very clear about if they want to support bashar al-assad, but they also said that they want to fight isil at the same time.
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secretary of defense saying that he thinks that approach is contradictory, and also they don't have the support political solution which he thinks is missing from the approach that the russians have. let me bring in my colleague mike viqueira. yes, mike, he seems a bit confused by the russians' approach. he doesn't like it, but nevertheless this is where we are. because this is where we are, he said basically what he has to do now is to communicate with his russian counterparts to make sure that there is not further conflict and miscommunication between the russians and the americans about what is happening in syria. >> well, you're right. i think you're correct. he was direct. he did not sugarcoat the frustration, the surprise and alarm being felt across the u.s. government in washington clear up to new york where secretary of state kerry is still meeting and spending time with his russian counterparts sergei lavrov.
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you're--ash carter taking the podium at the defense department at the pentagon today. basically three problems he has with what the russians have done here. when the russians have undertaken these strikes, given the united states just one hour's notice villa the emabout embassy saying essentially to the u.s. forces get out of the way we're going to be starting this process of launching airstrikes in defense of the assad regime, he said this is not the kind of behavior that we expect from the russians. very strong language there from the secretary of defense. but why? again, the russians backing bashar al-assad and not exclusively fighting isil, which is the aim of the coalition. carter saying this is an illogical contradiction tantamount to throwing gas on the fire backing bashar al-assad. and then the who. walk right up to t richelle,
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saying they were not striking isil and in fact, they were striking other forces. he didn't want to confirm that, but he said that it does appear that they were dropping their bombs in areas where there were no isil forces. so a big problem there, a lot of contradiction, and again all of this happening while the u.s. and russia were in the middle of trying to plan these talks to get together to deconflict their forces and assure there was no military-to-military conflict that could lead to obvious problems between the forces of the united states and the coalition forces led by the united states and russian military forces that as of today are launching airstrikes to back the assad regime. >> so now the russians and the americans have no choice but to, for lack of a better word, coordinate, if you will, if russia is not going to back off of these airstrikes, and ash carter made a point of saying make no mistakes it does not
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mean that we're okay with what we're doing. in ukraine we have to communicate for the safety of all involved and what is happening in syria. >> and also making it very clear, richelle, that the united states was in no way, shape or form going to be backing off themselves. some 71--more than 7,000 right now over the course of the last year and change against isil forces entrenched in both syria and iraq. and incidentally we understand that there were no strikes by russia against isil in iraq. that might seem offense but probably worth noting. but carter saying that it's imperative that we continue our campaign, our air campaign against isil. we're going to keep doing this now even without these talks to insure that the two forces don't come into conflict. and on ukraine, you know, this is something that is really remarkable. before the unga, the general assembly when it was announced that vladimir putin, according to the white house, was desperate to speak with president obama, that was the
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word used by the white house spokesman, the white house was encouraging the notion that this was all about ukraine. and that president obama was not going to give vladimir putin the opportunity to change the subject with his new military incursion and the beefing you have of the military presence in syria in the backing of bashar al-assad. but honestly, that is off the table. at least it's not the center of discussion as it has been in the last year and a half. have sanctions continued? yes. the coalition, the alliances imposing those sanctions against russia still appear to be remain strong. but the syria incursion, this power play by putin within syria now has really changed the dynamic and changed the equation. >> were you fascinated by that question from the reporter from the bbc who was blunt saying that do you think that vladimir putin is just messing with you, and ash carter replied no, i have every reason to take him at face value because he has done
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everything that he said he was going to do. i found that ash carter had a very strong tone that said if he wants to get back into the international community and not be isolated the way you have been, you need to stop doing things like this. it was a stern warning. >> and it's been noted by many people, including our ajam analyst p.j. crowley, that vladimir putin is playing a very weak hand in a very good way or a skillful way, and the opposite could be stayed according to analysts of the way the white house has handled this. the white house saying this is a desperate move by russia. russia is trying to maintain it's last toe hold in the middle east dating back to the soviet union and well before the fall of the berlin fall has had with bashar al-assad and his father for years, for generations, really, reiterating the stance that russia can't impose a military solution. this is not something that
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they're going to be able to do and drawing the parallel, i thought it was fascinating at the white house today between the russian incursion into afghanistan, the failed incursion and the failed military efforts there in the '70s, dating back to the '70s and '80s trying a parallel saying they are no more successful propping up their military dictatorship now as they were then. >> we'll pick it up on the other side of the break. keep it here on al jazeera america. behal
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>> just a short time ago. a press conference wrapped up, secretary of defense ash carter talking about the latest
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development out of syria being airstrikes that russia has begun to carry out. they say it was about airstrikes to target isil that has not been determined just yet. stressing the importance of diplomacy with russia following their actions. let's listen. >> it's important to see if we can get russians in a position where they are coming to understand the contradiction and the position that they now have, and the possibility that by seeing that political transition and defeating extremism as something that you have to pursue in parallel, maybe they could make a constructive contribution, but they're not on the path to doing that in a way that they are acting now. >> and my colleague now. courtney, when they talk about contradiction, what he was talking about, the contradiction as he sees it is that the russians say they're in this because they want to defeat extremism and isil. but they've been very clear they
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also think that bashar al-assad needs to remain in power and the secretary says those two things are contradictory. he also says that simply carrying out airstrikes without looking for a political solution to this, that is not the right approach either. and he says that the coalition particularly the u.s. has been trying to cook out a political solution. that clearly has not been effective. how strong has that gained to look for a political solution. >> well, we're five years in, ove millions displaced and over a thousand killed. and the refugee crisis. let's read beneath the tea leaves. completely different strateg ies. putin and russia, he looks back to cold war and soviet times in his leadership. bashar al-assad, they were cold war allies. when i was in syria, most people in the government spoke russian 15 years ago. they're not--this is a long
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relationship. and russians want to do is they want to help assad defeat the smaller but yet virulent groups that have turned near the cities on the west coast like al nusra that blockade the damascus where russian troops and munitions have gone. they blockade them from taking the larger city of aleppo. all those battles they've been fighting between assad and were the free syrian army, and now more al-qaeda-linked groups, they're fighting that to keep assad in power. that's a strategy that the u.s. does not agree with. >> okay. >> but it's still a strategy, and then they go after isil, which does not conflict with the coalition. they just have a different way of doing it. so you could say that some people would support the russian option, but then human rights record, the torture, the killing of his own people, that would sit badly for most people, but at this point the question is what choice does the world have,
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and what will stop the bloodshed, and how do we pick off these different groups? another thing is precision-guided munitions. not clear how many russia has. they're very expensive. there are reports of 30 people killed. that would be in homs, a down beleaguered, people living in horrible conditions. and also you cannot have two world nuclear-armed powers with their fighter jets in the sky. the u.s. taking out russia or russia taking out u.s. >> a dangerous game. >> incredibly dangerous game. the diplomacy just on that level they have to be talking to each other. but the geography of syria is that isil is all the way out in the desert bordering iraq, and we're training and equipping soldiers in iraq and also conducting airstrikes on this syria-iraq border. i expect the isil and the coalition against isil will stay over there as we watch putin decide what he's going to do for assad over on the coast.
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>> let's go and take another break. there is much more to talk about as these developments continue to come in. we heard just a while ago the secretary of defense address what is happening now with the russian airstrikes over syria. keep it here on the other side of the break.
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>> welcome back to al jazeera america. so a couple of big things happening today. we have been talking about the latest developments out of russia. out of syria, rather. the russian airstrikes, and we just finished wrapping up a press conference with secretary of defense ash carter. all this week the u.n. general assembly and a few developments
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out of the unga. let's check in with john terrett for the latest there. >> thank you, richelle. temperatures have dropped dramatically. it was hot and steamy and now we're all freezing outside of the general assembly. we'll take a look inside to see who is speaking, the lebanese prime minister. and the lebanese prime minister is here because the lebanese parliament has been unable to elect a president. rather than have a presidential representation from lebanon, they have the prime minister. and he's speaking now. the big headline here today, and it is a big headline is mahmood abbas, who addressed the general assembly an hour ago and did dropped a bombshell. he promised to, and he did. he said that the palestinians are no longer bound by the oslo accord as long as israel is not committed to them either. now we have a situation where the palestinians are saying to
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the israelis, look, you don't comply with many, many aspects of the oslo accord, now we're not going to, and we'll make you responsible for policing and services in the west bank. now it's not immediately clear whether this is just a threat, how it will actually happen, but it is in diplomatic terms a bombshell. and the thing about the oslo accord is that they were negotiated in secret in the early 1990s. no one new knew there were secret talks going on involving the government of of norway in oslo. and then that they were involved in all this. they were agreed in 1993 and in 1995. the point about this is that you could argue that because the israelis have not been complying with many aspects of the oslo accord, that the oslo accord has been dead for many years, and
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really what mahmood abbas has said does not amount to very much. let's listen to how he phrased it in the chamber here in the general assembly within the last couple of hours. take a listen. >> however, the israeli government insisted on continuing its destruction of the two-state solution, and on entrenching two regimes on the ground. and an apartheid regime that is currently in place and imposed on the palestinian people on one hand, and another regime of extensive privileges and protection to the israeli settlers on the other hand. >> well, that was mahmood abbas speaking here in the chamber of the general assembly over the last couple of hours. those oslo accords, the first one was signed in 1993.
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it was absolutely iconic. it was one of the great agreements of our lifetime. we'll have pictures later on if we haven't got them now. you'll remember, i'm sure, richelle, just looking at the history books what happened that day. that was the occasion that the then israeli prime minister and yasser arafat came together very sunny day on the lawn of the white house, and in front of president bill clinton they shook hands, and although they didn't sign the document, that was signed b. although they didn't sign it, they did shake hands on it. it was extraordinary. absolutely extraordinary at the time to see an israeli prime minister shaking hands with yasser arafat, who was at the time the leader of the plo. that's the deal that is now in jeopardy. you have two ways of looking at it. it is a bombshell, it is iconic,
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but at the same time you could argue that the accord has fallen apart because they have not honored many parts of it. >> indeed, john terrett. thanthank you for wrapping it up for us. we have much more to come out of the u.n. general assembly. we expect to hear from leaders from libya and iraq. when that happens we'll bring it back to you live on al jazeera america. we appreciate your time very much here. do keep it here throughout the day.
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>> russia launch airstrikes against isil targets in syria, a move described by washington as dangerous. hello, i'm felicity ba barr. you're watching al jazeera out of london. the palestinian flag is raised for the first time at the u.n. as it's president declares that they are no longer bound by agreements with israel. afghan forces backed by the u.s. and nato continue their fight for the control of the city of kunduz. and the man


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