tv The Situation Room CNN August 8, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
sick. >> if you leave behind even a single burning ember like a forest fire, it flares back up. >> that's why breaking the chain is essential to stopping the epidemic. >> that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i now turn you over to wolf i now turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com happening now, new u.s. air strikes. they drop food for tens of thousands of trapped refugees. what's the mission the obama administration warns of potential genocide by isis terrorists against iraq's minorities but says it won't put boots on the ground. an oh bowl la emergency. health officials say the world must unite to battle the deadly virus as an american patient treated with the experimental serum makes a stunning announcement. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
>> and let's get right to the breaking news. a fresh round of u.s. air strikes in iraq. american war planes attack targets belonging to isis as the jihadists who call themselves the islamic state close in on a major city in northern iraq. hundreds of thousands of christians and other minorities are now on the run. u.s. aircraft have the also dropped food and water as the obama administration warns of what it's calling a potential genocide. our correspondent and guests are standing by with the kind of coverage only cnn can deliver. let's begin with pentagon correspondent barbara starr. what are you learning? >> we have now in less than 24 hours had three rounds of air strikes against isis militants in northern iraq. it began early today with a strike by f/a-18 aircraft against a mobile artillery position that isis had outside the city of erbil in northern iraq. a short time later, a couple of hours later two additional strikes. a u.s. military drone fired a
shot against a terrorist mortar position when the isis fighters came back, the drone came back and attacked again. a short time after that, a third air strike. u.s. f/a-18s also flying off the deck of the carrier "george h.w. bush" struck against an isis convoy of seven vehicles and an additional mortar position. what we are seeing is very precision strikes either by drones using hell fire missiles or by laser-guided gps satellite-guided bombs from these f/a-18s. very specific weapons to go after potentially mobile targets with great precision. it's exactly what you would expect the u.s. military to use. they now have pilots in the air over iraq. so they're taking all the precautions to keep these air crews safe. what about the air drops of supplies to those people? the tens of thousands of minority iraqis stranded in the
mountains? what they are telling us here at the pentagon is almost all of the pallets did make it to these people. they flew a drone overhead to confirm that the pallets dropped where they were supposed to drop, and the yazidi people could get to them and get these supplies. they have about nine pallets they could not locate with that predator drone flying overhead. they don't know the did they miss the drop zone, did isis fighters get the pallets? are the pallets lost in the mountains? they don't know. expect to see more air drops. expect to see more air strikes. >> barbara starr, thank you. the united states is the as barbara reported, dropping bombs and relief supplies in iraq as it warns the targeting of the minorities by the isis terrorists could lead to genocide. but the obama administration says it won't put troops on the ground so what is the military and the strategic strategy that's unfolding right now? let's bring in our chief
national security correspondent jim sciutto. >> this is the map that shows all of the territory that isis has taken over both in syria and iraq. a massive advance just in the last several weeks. but the strategy now focused on two specific areas. the first one sinjar where the yazidi people are trapped in the mountains surrounded by isis forces. the focus getting them food and aid and also getting them to safer ground. the second location in erbil. this is where the u.s. has a consulate with hundreds of consular staff, some of them transferred here from baghdad recently as well as u.s. military advisors and the concern is the consulate here only about 25 miles from the border areas where isis troops, isis fighters now are shelling the city. that's a very intermediatate concern. open question though is what kind of help the u.s. offers to iraqi forces in dealing with this. all the other isis territory that's been captured, that is still an open question.
>> with the looming massacre of minority yazidis and hundreds of americans now under threat, president barack obama did what many believe he least wanted to do, go back into iraq. >> earlier this week, be one iraqi in the area cried to the world, there is no one coming to help. well, today america is coming to help. >> reporter: still, the administration insists operations will be strictly limited. mission number one, protecting thia dediseases. u.s. forces delivered food and water to some 40,000 stranded yazidis and may help open a humanitarian corridor to safer ground in iraqi aortic kurdistan. thousands of christians are now also in danger. isis threatens all nonsunni muslims to convert or die. >> it's grotesque targeted acts of violence. show all the warning signs of
genocide. >> mission two, protecting the nearly 6,000 american. embassy staff and military advisors now stationed in erbil and baghdad. >> we intend to stay vigilant and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in iraq. >> the more difficult question for the president is -- what then? he has repeatedly said iraqis must take on isis themselves. however, as isis continues to advance with little challenge from iraqi forces, both mr. obama and his advisors are offering undefined american help. >> the third is slightly broader but is related to our belief and commitment to supporting integrated iraqi security forces and kurdish security forces. >> some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing the president to do more and right away. it takes an army to defeat an army, said senate intelligence committee chairman dianne feinstein, a democrat. and i believe that we either
confront isil now or forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future. >> the administration's critics are already raising the question of mission creep. it's a fair question. the biggest one, what does the administration do to push back isis's advance across iraq and syria. but also more near term questions. the president last night raised the possibility of u.s. air strikes to help open a humantarian corridor to rescue those yazidi people. how long is that air support necessary? that's an open question and also, wolf, what do you do as other minority groups comed you threat here, including the christians? you've launched a major operation to protect the yazidis, do you do the same to protect christians, are shiites. another prospect which raises the question of mission creep. >> senator dianne feinstein makes a fair point. if you're going to beat an army like isis well armed, well equipped, it's got vet very
fierce fighters, you can't just do it from the air. you need an army to do that. >> no question. that is exactly the way u.s. intelligence officials described them to me. they behave like an army, take territory like an army and hold territory like an army. we've seen them with them taking the crucial mosul dam. powers mosul and threatens the south. they behave like an army, and as senator feinstein said, you may need army-like tactics to push them back. >> the iraqi sort of mia, missing in action. as great as the peshmerga are, they're not well arm at all. they won't be able to do it. it's the u.s. and a whole lot of other armies fate tote armies are not getting involved. >> the kurds are outgunned by american supplied weapons that is isis stole from iraqi forces. >> right. including m 1 battle thanks. >> hundreds of thousands of
iraqis, christians, yazidis, other minorities thread their homes and many are now seeking refuge in and around a northern iraqi city of erbil. that's where ivan watson is based right now. what's the situation like? >> we're on the edge of clearly what is a new humanitarian crisis in the middle east. hundreds of thousands of people people forced to flee their homes in a matter of hours basically after kurdish peshmerga forces with drew from a string of villages and towns and that basically triggered an exodus wednesday night. cities like erbil are inundated in these displaced -- by these displaced people who are taking up shelter in churches in, community centers, in parking lots basically. the kurdish authorities are
struggling to provide some kind of food and water to these people. i'm seeing ordinary kurds donating money, trying to bring some aid to these people and this is just the very beginning of what's clearly a much bigger problem because everybody i talk to, wolf, says this he do not expect that they'll be able to go home anytime soon. that's how afraid they are of this isis offensive that has moved forward into new areas. one bit of perhaps positive news. aid organization, the international rescue committee, it reports that some 4,000 of those trapped yazidis who were surrounded by isis on sinjar mountain succeeded escaping across the border to nearby syria thursday night where the international rescue committee is now providing them with water and emergency medical supplies to these dehydrated people who managed to make it out. we're hearing that that was part
of a daring operation bill kurdish pesh. mer ga fighters bolstered it appears by fighters from the kurdistan workers party or pkk which is officially registered as a an terrorist organization by the u.s. the u.s. also bombing reportedly targeted threatening to bomb bomb isis targets around that same mountain. you have two potential enemies now working together to rescue the kurds still believed to be numbers in the tens of thousands on sinjar mountain exposed to the elements and kurdish officials say dying each dale due to dehydration and the extreme heat here in augusting in iraq. wolf? >> erbil is how big? how many people live there under normal circumstances, ivan? >> the governor of this province told me it's about 1.8 million people in the province. 1.8 million. he estimated more than 200,000
have come into the province in the last 48 hours. he was also very grateful about president obama's message thatter bill would effectively be protected by air strikes. he was basically begging for assistance because as of this morning, the isis militants were only about 35 miles away. 35 miles away. that's half an hour's drive maybe. and he was definitely, definitely worried, calling for air strikes, calling for weapons, calling for ammunition. the reports coming from the pentagon is that the air force, the drones have been in effect. and that is definitely giving a sigh of relief to the kurdish officials here to the population, some of which had taken to the hills on wednesday nigh as this refugee exodus came from the towns anvils that had been captured by isis on wednesday night. >> ivan watson reporting from erbil in northern iraq.
ivan, thank you. up next, isis militants reportedly using american-made weapons to capture iraq's largest dam, potentially putting millions of people at risk of catastrophic flooding. and they have a powerful militia but they're taking heavy casualties. can the kurds of northern iraq hold off the isis onslaught? i'll speak with a top kurdish official. when folks think about what they get from alaska, they think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well: jobs all over america. engineering and innovation jobs. advanced safety systems & technology. shipping and manufacturing. across the united states, bp supports more than a quarter million jobs. when we set up operation in one part of the country, people in other parts go to work. that's not a coincidence. it's one more part of our commitment to america.
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many of those weapons u.s. weapons, but they may now have an extraordinary weapon of mass destruction. pamela brown is here in "the situation room" looking at this part of the story. this is very terrifying. >> it certainly is. i've been speaking to u.s. officials today. they said that isis may very well be one of the most well equipped jihadist groups in the world with its cache of weapons with rocket-propelled grenades, humvees, weapons and small arms. it's believed the dangerous group has the capability to threaten aircraft in the area, in fact, one u.s. official i spoke with today says with this firepower, isis is emboldened bitis leith alt. >> the isis fighters seen here using weapons seized from the iraqi army. parading around on armored thanks, showcasing their signature black flag and hauling a massive missile through the streets of seized iraqi territory. >> isis is more of a threat to the united states now than al
qaeda was prior to the september 11th. >> perhaps isis's most lethal weapon, the capture of this massive dam in mosul. the u.s. itself warned during the irk war its failure could create create 20-meter waves and result in significant loss of life and property. >> we'd better have our eyes wide open about the potential range of casualties here. >> a source telling cnn the militants attacked the dam with an american made m 1 abrams tank like this. isis has been stockpiling artillery ever since it began commandeering iraqi territory, taking american made machinery left over from the war and weapons dropped by fleeing iraqi troops. a senior administration official tells cnn isis is well resourced and well organized militarily. >> i think it's also entirely possible that the isil or isis group has found various kinds of either anti-tank weapons or anti-aircraft weapons and mounted them on vehicles to have
maximum mobility. >> based on vice videos posted online, experts believe they could have access to portable air defense systems which has a range of approximately 10,000 feet and 37 millimeter anti-aircraft guns with a range of approximately 27,000 feet. high enough to bring down one of the u.s. planes dropping humanitarian relief. the navy jets involved with air strikes fly at around 40,000 feet. on friday, the faa banned u.s. flights over iraq citing the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict. and the kurd who are fighting isis right now in northern iraq problem is they are outgunned by the militant group. a senior administration official saying though that the u.s. is expediting assistance to the kurds. meantime, isis has all the weapons and gaining steam with the amount of money it's acquiring. according to some expert, it's amounting to millions of dollars
from seized bank accounts, from taxes they're imposing in the towns they've seized and also from oil that they're selling. >> i've read they stole hundreds of millions of dollars from banks in mosul when they took over mosul, the second largest city in iraq and they have all this cash, the wealthiest terror organization by far in the world right now. pamela brown, thanks very much. the united states may now be dropping bombs and relief supplies in northern iraq, but if the isis advance in northern iraq is to be stopped, it it will be up to the militia of the largely autonomous region of the kurdish region. the peshmerga is outgunned right now. the region is being overwhelmed by a flood of desperate refugees. joining us now is kubad is talabani. we know each other from his days here in washington. first of all, remind viewers isis, these isis terrorists, who
are they will and why have they become so powerful and such a major threat to the kurds, to the christians, to the shiites, to so many people in iraq? >> thanks, wolf. thanks for having me on. it's good to be back on the "situation room." as you said, rightly said, the isis group, terrorist organization that that really started off in syria that have now come across the border into iraq and have taken over a large piece of territory of the country, they launched a savage war against the iraqi army and quickly took over a big part of the territory in the country. and since their conflict with the iraqi forces have stopped, they've turned their attentions to the north. and they've turned their attention to the north and they're now engaged in direct conflict with the kurds. and with our forces in kurdistan. >> how endangered are your peshmerga forces right now? we know they're very courageous
fighters but they're certainly outgunned. they're lightly armed relatively speaking compared to isis. what do you need from the united states? >> well, our forces, the peshmerga forces are very brave and he heavy put up an amazing fight to date. and there have been some very, very tough battles which suffered casualties on both sides. but we are a light infantry force and predominant lit had the backdrops of ourmans as our defense force, but now we are facing a very sophisticated terrorist organization with heavy with weapons and uparmored u.s.-manufactured humvees and mortar rounds and thanks and it's a very formidable force we're fighting. we need to be able to have the kind of weaponry that can penetrate this kind of armor that can stop the humvees in their tracks, that can hurt these thanks as they try to move in on our positions.
we have the people to do it. we have the heart and the ability, we have the will. and we have the people to do it. we just need the weapons now. >> is the obama administration providing you with those weapons? >> we are in good discussions with the administration. we are very grateful for their policy. we're very grateful for the president's message. and very grateful for the actions of the u.s. air force that have started to target isis installations. we're thankful to the iraqi air force, as well for coming to our assistance in this battle. this is a very important time for the country. so we cannot cannot stress enough our appreciation, especially to the united states to coming to our aid. we believe that there is assistance on the way. we're hoping that this can be expedited but we're also hoping this air asset assistance can
continue because it's not just about stopping these attacks on kurdish territory because so long as there is isis in iraq, so long as there is this threat in iraq, this terrorist organization with this firepower and with the kinds of money that you mentioned yourself in your report, it's a very dangerous situation. it's a danger to iraq. it's a danger to the region. and it is certainly a danger to democracy around here. >> bottom line right now, do you believe that usair power alone will destroy isis in iraq? or will a ground assault be necessary? >> we're not asking for boots on the ground. at this moment, we believe that with usair power power, but supplying us with the ability to launch the kinds of offensive that we need to launching to assist the iraqi forces to be able to hit them from the south, as well, if we move on them from the north, the iraqis move in on
them from the south and the u.s. and others hit them from the skies, i think this is a pretty brutal combination and we can do significant damage to them. but i'm sure that there is going to be a lot of assistance that is going to be required. a city like mosul, which is a big city, for that city to be cleared, we're going to require a lot of strategic assistance from the united states. >> mosul the second largest city in iraq. almost 2 million people there, erbil another million plus over there. this is obviously a heavily populated area. qubad talibani joining us from erbil. thanks very much. we'll stay in close touch with you in the coming days. coming up, can air strikes alone-halt that isis advance and what is the u.s. goal in iraq? i'll ask a key official. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." (vo) friday night has always
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i would. switch to comcast business internet and get the fastest wifi included. comcast business. built for business. get back to the breaking news. the united states has launched the second round of air strikes against isis. also dropping relief supplies to thousands and thousands of refugees trapped on a mountain in northern iraq. president obama and secretary of state john kerry both warn that the brutal isis campaign against iraq's minorities has the makings of in their word genocide. joining us now is brett mcgurk with responsibility for iraq. and iran. bret, thanks very much for joining us. do you really believe that air power alone, usair power, no u.s. boots on the ground can get the job done and destroy isis in
iraq? >> well, as the president laid out last night, that's not what these missions are about. these missions are designed specifically two exigent situations. one is a humantarian crisis on top of mount sinjar. we're going to drop supplies to the people on top of that mountain to ensure they can survive with water and food and also going to work with kurdish forces and any other forces to break the siege of that mountain and get them off the mountain. that's going to take time. we're committed to do everything we possibly can. and secondly, after isis launched this offensive in the kurdish region starting saturday night, they really opened up an offensive avenue to the capital, the regional capital of erbil. so we had to act with decisiveness and the president did act with decisiveness to make clear we're going to defend those routes and we're not going to allow isis to approach that capital for a host of reasons. >> talk about both of those missions. how close are you to resolving
mission number one, saving thousands of refugees stranded on top of that mountain with the all those isis troops below? >> well, wolf, it is a very difficult situation. the first thing we had to do was make sure they had humanitarian supplies. from the moment this crisis started we worked around the clock with our kurdish partners and those in baghdad to get iraqi air force mountains over that plant dropping supplies. they had very effective drops. when it comes to dropping water, it's very difficult. the water breaks on impact. it's only something we can do. so the president ordered and military executed a mission last night to drop supplies to the mountain. the mission was flawlessly executed. we're prepared to do additional drops as feeded. >> what about the area isis troops, the fighters at the bottom? are they still there threatening how many thousands of refugees stuck on the top of the mountain? >> well, i'll just say this. it's up to tens of thousands.
mountains is about 3,000 feet high. as the president said, he has already given go the authorization to commanders to take abaction against isis to break the siege of that mountain. this unfold over the coming days. and we are prepared to look at all potential options. we're developing those now. the president will have additional options to consider. >> in other words, air power to go after the isis troops at the bottom of the mountain which could be significant. how many americans are in erbil right now when you add up the military personnel and the diplomatic and consular officials? >> well, wolf, we don't talk about numbers. i will say our consulate in erbil is doing truly heroic work at this particular moment. it is essential to the humanitarian response. they're working directly with our u.n. colleagues in a number of ngos who are coordinating this humanitarian response. so we need to make sure they are able to do their work safely. we also have in erbil as the president announced june 19th when he last addressed the
american people on the iraq situation, woo he established a joint operation center in erbil and in baghdad. and it was because of that decision that we were able to act with the decisiveness that we needed given the exigency of the situation. so those dod personnel are doing their work. they're working seamlessly with partners from the united nations and the international community and kurdish partners and our partners in baghdad. the iraqi air force, there's a lot of focus on the u.s. air strikes today. the iraqi air force has also been conducting strikes since sunday in support of kurdish forces and with the facilitation of our or operations center in baghdad and erbil. >> bret, thanks very much. we'll stay in close touch with you, as well. >> everything that you, wolf. >> we're following breaking news here in "the situation room." u.s. air strikes on isis soos targets in iraq. just ahead, we'll discuss the isis tafrer threat with our national security experts and a
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we're following the breaking news, a new round of usair vikes in iraq. more presumably on the way. joining us now our national security analyst peter bergen, retired u.s. air force intelligence officer is, colonel cedric lleyton and chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. colonel, you heard the official we just spoke to said the u.s. has two missions,ive sa the people stranded, tens of thousands of them on top of this
mountain, the bottom of the mountain is isis forces. secondly make sure the folks in erbil the big city in the north are safe. can you do that with air power alone? >> i don't think so. i know the administration is trying to put a good face on this. if you use air power alone you can do interdiksz missions and keep people from getting to certain places for a while. at some point you run out of weapons, munitions if you don't have the logistical train to supply that. the u.s. has a significant rain to do that, but they have to be very careful because the isis forces are very adept at moving even without modern conveniences and they can do it very, very quickly. so i don't think that's going to be sufficient to stop them. >> so the only ground forces there if the u.s. maintains its policy, peter, no u.s. boots on ground, kurdish fighters and the iraqi army of the central government. can they get the job done? >> i this i they've already demonstrated they haven't got the job done and doesn't seem to
be any indication they will get the job done unless some kind of miracle happens right now. >> which raises the question, jim, you and i have discussed this of the u.s. getting sucked into another war in iraq, a third war in iraq and to get the job done, the u.s. presumably would have to deploy thousands of ground forces. >> in effect as much as the administration has limit this had operation, there are three missions, two easy to define, protecting the yazidis and u.s. personnel in erbil and baghdad. both the president, josh earnest and other officials talked about this third as yet undefined portion of this, which is somehow aiding the iraqis to push back against isis in irsiriaen an iraq. those positions there, deciding how -- they've got the 300 military advisors in there now for this reason to see how we can help you. the question is how much does the u.s. help? does that include air strikes yonder beale, beyond helpingia dediseases? that's a possibility. that's still the open question, hasn't been defined. >> why is the iraqi abarmy so
inept? the u.s. spent hundreds of billions of dollars over, trained a force of a few hundred thousand iraqi troops and they can't stand up to a few thousand isis terrorists? >> it's frustrating beyond belief. as somebody who worked with people who trained the iraqis, the big thing is they are professional military people in iraq. the only problem is they don't get promoted or paid. and they fall victim to political patronage. what you see is an iraqi army that is basically al maliki's army designed to fit his political patronage model. because of that, we have a weak and inefficient army. >> some experts have said the u.s. bombing isis targets in iraq right now is going to strengthen them, because it will look like the crusaders are coming in, the bad guys and these guys are standing up to the crusaders. >> if there is an effective bombing campaign and the colonel's outlined what an effective campaign is not necessarily going to solve the problem, at the end of the day,
we mounted a very effective drone campaign on al qaeda in the tribal areas in pakistan and basically obliterated them. so i wouldn't buy the argument if they're going to be damaged militarily, that's just going to -- that's the end. that's what the goal here. so i don't bite that argument. >> the guys, i want you to stand by. we're going to continue our analysis of what's going on. peter, jim and cedric. we're following the breaking news. a new round of u.s. air strikes in iraq. we're about to go live from the white house and hear from deputy national security advisor ben rhodes. stay with us. (male announcer) it's happening.
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news. new u.s. air strikes on isis terrorist targets in iraq. we're standing by. we'll speak momentarily with the white house deputy national security advisor ben rhodes but a quick question peter, to you. is it fair to call isis an al qaeda-inspired terror organization. >> yeah, it was originally al qaeda in iraq. they've broken away from al qaeda central. arguably they're worse. it's part of al qaeda, which -- they've divorced themselves from al qaeda which raises an interesting question which is what are the legal authorities we're conducting this campaign against them? theoretically, these kinds of activities are conducted with the authorization for the use of military force which is against al qaeda and this group split away. >> ben rhodes is joining us now live. ben, thanks very much for joining us. i want you to respond to the criticism you get from the lind za graham and john mccain.
if only you had left some u.s. troops in iraq instead of pulling them all out, this would have never happened. you say? >> well, wolf, look, the fact of the matter matter is there's not a u.s. solution in i rack. after we had troops taken out of i rack, those differences continued. what we saw over the course of the last several months is a disinfected sunni group and terrorists that took advantage of that. but again, u.s. troops are not going to be able to impose a political outcome on iraq. i think that's a lesson that the american people have learned from the last decade and it's one that we're going to keep going forward. >> do you believe the iraqi military, can they get the job done in. >> we believe they can. they clearly need support. in the immediate future what we've said is if we see movement
by isil against erbil, we're going to be there. we're not going to allow it to be breached. at the same time we're training equipment and assistance to both the iraqi forces and the occur dish forces. we believe if they complete formation of a government there could be greater from the i rack ki communities. and that creates a stronger basis for the iraqis to go on the defensive. >> the iraqi people must step up to goch their own country in an inclusive manner. ultimately no number of american troops can solve the underlying problems. >> we agree that american troops
aren't going to solve iraq's problems. they've been in a period of formation. they're putting together the new government. they clearly have not done enough to reach out to the disinfected sunni communities where isil has moved in. but what we're doing now is we've seen a new president chosen, a knew sunni speaker chos chosen and now a prime minister will be chosen. in the immediate term we're not going to allow our people to be threatened. that's why we took the action that we did around erbil so isil is not affect the city. >> why not take the americans out there, evacuate them, and get them out of erbil? >> we want to keep the facilities open. we believe it's important for the united states to have a presence in iraq to try to wring about the solutions and bring support to the iraqis. we have a joint operation center
in erbil where we're supporting the forces. and we have an invitation to take the action from the iraqi government. we have intelligence and the military to use the targeted air power to great effect. that gist us confidence that we can take strikes to allows us to keep the facilities operating. >> i asked about an evacuation because that's precisely what you did with libya when it got too dangerous. all personnel were pulled out because it was too dangerous. could you see that happening in erbil? >> i think it's a different situation. in you don't have the u.s. intelligence in place, you don't have the invitation from the government to take the strikes. we want to keep isil out of
erbil. if we are taking the air strikes, ultimately the kir dish forces can stake them out. they are the ones who will be in the lead in the fight against isil. >> is there a time line how long these u.s. air strikes are going to continue? we know there have been two rounds of precision strikes, 500-pound boehms going after isis targets. >> two missions the president outlined last night. on the mountain we're going to provide human tear support. that's a finite mission until we can get the people to a safe place where they can receive international assistance. with respect to erbil, the principle is protecting our people and facilities. we don't put a timeline on that because we're always going to
protect them. this is an emergency where we have to do that. the long term solution is those forces regrouping, resupplying and we're helping them do that, getting in the fight and pushing back isil. they've proven willing to fight in the past. we believe that will be the case and we won't have to take air strikes when the kurds are able to secure the border of the city. >> i've got to take a quick commercial break. if you can, stick around. if you can't, we understand completely. we're going to have more on the breaking news. stay with us.
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imagine loving your numbers. ask your doctor about invokana®. sulaymaniyah. happening now, breaking news. u.s. war planes in action launches a new round of air strikes in iraq targeting isis militants and their fire power. we're getting more information from the region, from the obama war room. we'll show you how isis seizes so much land using brutal tactics that are terrorizing hundreds of thousands of people right now. and new warfare in gaza after a three-day truce has ended with a barrage of rocket fire into israel. is another cease-fire possible? we want to welcome our viewers around the united states and the
world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> let's get right to the breaks news. at least two new u.s. strikes in iraq. some isis terrorists have been eliminated and their whens neutralized. american fighter jets are in the skies looking for more initial targets a day after president obama gave the green light to attack. hundreds of thousands of iraqis are trapped by the fights including these people who raced to get food and watt frer tus air drops. religious minorities, hundreds of thousands of christians could be acted. we are covering the breaking news in iraq all across the middle east and around the world. he's go to jim acosta. he filed this report. >> reporter: after multiple rounds of u.s. air describings on isis targets in iraq. this is all we could see of the
president, commander in kmeen on the phone discussing what's next. the mission in iraq will be limited to protect u.s. military advisers and diplomats in erbil and end the siege of the minorities driven into the mountains. but the white house concedes there's no firm time line. that prospect of an open-ended engagement is a far cry from the president's initial reluctance to deal with isis two months ago, as well as his preference for diplomat tick solutions in ukraine and syria. >> americans war in iraq will be over. >> mr. obama is now the fourth u.s. president in a row to launch military action in iraq. >> was he reluctant to make this decision? >> i think the president was determined to use military action to protect american personnel who are in harm's way in iraq. he was determined to use american military assets to try to address an rth humanitarian
situation. >> isis is just as determined as one of its fighters told the news, we will raise the flag of allah at the white house. >> those people are not people. they're monsters. >> monsters the president brushed off in january when he said to a new yorker if the jv team puts on lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them coby bryant. >> we are concerned. >> for now members of congress are showing support for the house strikes. house speaker john boehner said in a statement i am dismayed by the on joining absence of a strategy. vital national interests are at stake yet the white house has remained disengaged. isis has threatened one of mr. obama's main hopes of his legacy, to get out and stay out of iraq. >> i want to make sure when i turn the keys over to the next
president that they have the ability, that he or she has the capacity to make some decisions with a relatively clean slate. >> a report from our senior white house correspondent jim acosta. let's stay at the white house. right now ben rhodes is still with us. ben, explain that jv comment that the president made in january to "the new yorker." was there a failure to appreciate what the isis terrorists were about? >> no. what we've seen since al qaeda have been degraded. you've seen a proliferation of different extremists groups. and what the president is referring to is we have to have the ability to look at the groups and assess what is the threat that they pose to the united states, to the homeland and what is the threat that they pose in the country where they're operating. what we've seen from isil is
rapid capacity in the past couple of months because they've been able to get their hands on some heavier weapons as they've advanced across iraq. >> these isis forces pose a huge threat to christians, kurds, shiites, all sorts of people inside iraq. how much of a real threat do they pose to the united states of america? >> well, wolf, to date we have seen them focus on iraq and syria, not focus on the type of homeland plotting that al qaeda and pakistan has focused on. that doesn't mean they're not going to develop those ambitions. the threat they pose is in iraq and syria and what the line that the president drew is we're going to protect our people and facilities in iraq. we saw them get close to erbil,
we took shots to see that our people are protected and the city of erbil is protected. >> how confident are you that these precision u.s. air strikes are precise, that they're killing the isis terrorists but they're not killing innocent civilians in iraq? >> well, wolf, first of all, because of the decisions that the president made in june, we've had intelligence resources above iraq. we have a pretty good picture of what's happening on the ground. our military has a lot of experience in iraq and afghanistan. what you've seen today are targets associated with the shelling of the forces with the advance of convoys that could threaten the city. those are targets that the military has taken out. we're going to continue to cowhat's necessary to protect americans in erbil. >> ben rhodes is the national security adviser to the president. thanks for joining us. i appreciate your thoughts,
obviously critically important thoughts on what is going on. >> thanks. let's get an update on the u.s. military action in iraq. our pentagon correspondent barbara star is getting new information np what are you learning? >> when you look at u.s. military action, think about what ben rhodes just said. this is an enemy that fights like an army. they have a strat zbi and are executi executing. they've moving over the ground of i rack. they're taking and holding ground, something al qaeda never achieved that kind of weapons and military capability. that's why you're seeing the u.s. air strikes especially in erbil. at the beginning there was very little discussion and view that erbil would be the first place the u.s. might have to strike. but isis has moved close. now we're hearing about defending a city, defending the corridor around erbil as necessary to protect the u.s. personnel there and to defend the city.
a u.s. official telling me a short time ago they feel they cannot let erbil fall to isis, the same thing that happened in mosul where it fell to isis. that is why you're seeing the air strikes, three in less than 24 hours, began with a strike against an isis artillery position. we've had additional strikes against mortar positions, convoys, pilots at risk over northern iraq. we've had a strike by a u.s. drone. what you are seeing is precision weapons as you described them going after very particular targets looking to keep that area around erbil free from isis moving closer to the city and to keep erbil out of isis' hands. will those air strikes be enough to do it remains to be seen. >> the air powering from the uss george h.w. bush, the aircraft
carrier in the persian gulf right now. the drones are coming from that aircraft carrier as well, is that right? >> no, we don't think thatry. thatry most likely land based and they're coming from somewhere in the region. but we're not being told. you look at the countries on the map around iraq and syria, all of it very sensitive. many of these persian gulf and middle eastern countries do not want to publicly be seen as having u.s. military assets on their ground. they don't want too much publicity about it all. but clearly many areas in that region hosting the u.s. military forces. >> and the u.s. military gearing up for a lot more of these kinds of air strikes, right? >> absolutely. i think it is fair to say that we will see more of these precision strikes over the weekend. looking at particular isis weapons' positions around erbil that particularly appear to be threatening where they are moved closer. the u.s. likely will try to push them back. and i think we will also see
additional air drops to those people trapped in those mountain pps the air drop was successful. but look, that is only the beginning. as long as those tens of thousands of people are up in those mountains starving and dying of thirst, they are going to need a lot of help. >> certainly will. the majority religious group in iraq are in danger right now and the u.s. is trying to come to their rescue, dropping badly needed food and water and medical equipment. thanks very much. let's get more on that dire situation, then tens of thousands of christians, other religious minorities in iraq. these are the targets of the deadly attacks and the persecution by the isis militants. our senior correspondent ivan watson is on the ground for us in northern iraq. tell our viewers what you're seeing and hearing. what's it like there?
>>. >> reporter: dramatic scenes. we visited church that is full of hundreds of people taking sang rare from the militants amid the pews. and that is just one symbolic example of a much bigger wave of families, of civilians numbering in the hundreds of thousands who have fled the movement of these hards line islamists militants and taking shelter in pretty much any structure that they can find, whether it's a church, a recreation center or unfinished office building. the kurdish authorities here are struggling to deal with this wave of displaced people which some are estimating is more than half a million people in the region, struggling to try to accommodate and feed these people, provide them water and medical care at the time when they're dealing with isis
militants who are quite close. listen to an exert from a conversation i had with the kurdish governor of erbil earlier today. >> how far away there are the isis militants right now from erbil. >> some of them might be at 30 kill lo meters. >> that's very close. >> yes. >> and how is the battle going right now on that side? >> of course they're fighting against them. they will try to stop them. but it's very important because they have good offense. but the offense, they take it from the military in the mosul. they have different kind. their offense is different. for that it's very important to attack them by the -- >> reporter: now, wolf, the kurdish leadership has been public in thanking the u.s. for using air power now to try to semithe isis tide which again,
only about half an hour's drive away from here is where the isis positions are. and this wave of humanity that we've seen fleeing is nothing compared to what we could see if isis was able to get to the city of erbil, the city of more than a million people. you can bet that the kurds that live here would join these hoards of people fleeing isis if those militants were able to reach the gates of this city as well. >> we know the isis forces, they took over the second largest city in iraq, mosul not that long ago, a city of almost 2 billion people. mosul in the hands of these isis terrorists, erbil in dang right now. ivan watson within be careful over there. these isis forces have seized control of a lot of iraqi territory and they've done so with frightening speed and horrifying brutality. we want to warn our viewers that
some of the images that you're about to see in this report, some of these images are so horrific it's heart breaking to see what human beings can do to others. >> it's incredible to watch. we're learning more about why si isis has been successful. they're stronger than ever. it comes from better training, tactics and psychological warfare. adds wolf mentioned we have to warn viewers that some might find the images in this story disturbing. they're ferocious and relentless, capturing huge swaths of territory at a time. >> this is not your far's al qaeda. >> the old militant tactics, hit and runs, ambushes, roadside bombs. when other groups went to battle against the well-trained armies, they were often wiped out. isis is much more disciplined
than militant forces of the past with good unit commanders, better tactics. >> but for the black flags, this could be a platoon of american army soldiers or marines circa 2004 or 2005 moving in formation, soldiers throughout the column. we can see the weapons, the machine guns in the vehicles. they can use to establish a base of fire. >> training is a big difference with isis, analysts say. they're getting help with that from outside. >> they also now have been bolstered by a significant number of fighters who have joined their ranks, also foreign fighters from across the arab world, some with significant experience in urban ware fair. >> what also makes isis dangerous on the battlefield, the way they get the most from their arsenal. >> some of it is primitive like the tank. but the more primitive the equipment they capture, the more likely they're able to use it and maintain it. simpler is better in their case.
pieces of captured armored vehicles, we sea several of them here. >> a warning, you're about to see some disturbing video. isis units win before they get to the battlefield because of this. horrific propaganda videos show the militants murdering the people, displaying their heads on the poles in city circles. >> it's not what they're capable of. it's what people fear they're capable of which gives them the advantage. they've had a deliberate strategy of terrorizing the iraqi military. >> experts say iraqi soldiers who see the videos often quit and run before they see the videos. >> these videos are much more gruesome than what we're showing on cnn. but isis uses it as a weapon and we feel it's appropriate to show
some of them to give you an idea of what this group is all about. >> how strange it is that a group would film and show the world this kind of brutality. >> we've seen nothing like it. it is strange and horrifying. we have to say in some cases this is very effective. one christian is threatened that if he doesn't convert to islam, they're going to kill him. he converts and they kill him anyway. we felt it was important to show a clip or two. >> certainly terrorized my jor elements of the iraqi military. they ran away, left all of the u.s. military away, abandoned their bases, the warehouses. isis has all of that stuff now. >> that really did change the dynamics of the battlefield. we are live reports on the
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reiterated president obama's commitment to assist and protect innocent iraqi civilians trapped on mount sinjar. the spt emphasized that the threat isis presented to all iraqis affirmed the u.s. commitment to support iraq and all of its citizens to work to defend the country from this international threat. the new president of iraq thanked the vice president for u.s. support. that just come in to "the situation room." i have more on what's going on, the u.s. air war in iraq. but right now let's move to other breaks news. the israeli militant say that 50 rockets have been filed from gaza into israel. israel retaliated with multiple strikes that killed five palestinians. cnn's martin savage is in gaza city for us. what are you seeing now, martin?
what's the latest? >> reporter: well, wolf, the air strikes continue from israelis. we have been hearing that very noticeable thump that you get. that's usually pretty heavy ordnances coming. it's the jets being used frequently compared to the last go around. last time it was more taping fire, artillery. this time it seems that aircraft are being used and air cat can be a bit more precise when you're operating in a densely populated area in the gaza strip and that could account that the death toll was lower. i would never say that the death toll was low because we're already approaching the terrible number of 1900 palestinians that have been killed since operations began and dozens of israeli soldiers have been killed during the ground offense. much of this is indirect fire that's come in. and of course there are rockets
going out. there have been many of them starting since 8:00 this morning. it was islamic jihad that actually did the breaking of the cease-fire. the cease-fire expired and one minute later islamic jihad decided to launch a barrage of rockets and the two sides have been going back and forth. israel maintains, if you stop firing rockets we'll stop retaliating. but islamic jihad and hamas decided that's not the tactic they want to follow. let's go to jerusalem right now. jake tapper has been reporting all week. what is the latest that you're hearing about the prospects of reviving the cease-fire? >> reporter: well, i guess two things. one is it seems likely or at least possible that this is going to end up just a low level war of attrition where this doesn't get resolved and the
situation in gaza in terms of the blockade stays in place many hamas and other groups in gaza continue to occasionally fire rockets to israel on israel. israel retall yates and it stays a low level confrontation like this until eventually it ends or goes on. there are those who are hoping and pushing for the reinstatement of the cease-fire. right now palestinians presenting a very strong united front publicly. no one criticizing hamas for stating that they did not want the cease-fire to continue unless their demands were met. no one criticizing them publicly. but behind the scenes i'm told that some palestinian factions had been pressing if are the cease-fire to be extended. it seems unlike i that israel will grant, as a condition for cease-fire, allowing gaza to
open up its sea port. i think it's possible that the entrances at the borders with egypt and israel could be opened at some point as a concession with the palestinian authority as security there. but right now i think both sides are kind of hunkering down. although there's some optimism expressed given that the palestinians are still in cairo and have not left. that's where we are when it comes to looking for a bright side in this horrendous conflict. >> we would love to see a bright side. unfortunately, there are not too bright sides in this conflict. jack tapper reporting for us. thanks very much. just ahead i'll speak about the renewed fighting from representatives from both sides, the spokesman for the israel defense forces, lieutenant colonel peter learner standing by.
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the idf, lieutenant colonel peter learner. what's the goal of the new israeli air strikes? >> clearly what happened this morning was hamas decided they don't want to cease-fire anymore and they began launches rockets almost immediately after the 72-hour cease-fire ended. israel ruz left with no choice but to respond. that's what we're doing. we're responding to hamas aggression. that's what we've been doing throughout the day, striking the launches pads, striking the launching capabilities. the command and control capabilities of the different organizations that are launching these attacks against us. we've had over 60 rockets fired at us throughout the day and we've been striking back. we have two israelis injured in the attacks. >> the tunnels though, you're done with the tunnels. you've destroyed all of the hamas tunnels going from hgaza
into israel, right? >> just as we went into the cease-fire we had completed that task and taken that threat off of the table. and that enabled us to withdraw or forces and take up defensive positions along the front here. that's a good development. there's less friction on the ground and it means we can kopt our activities in light of the hamas aggression and strike hamas from the air. but indeed we're poised and prepared for infiltration attacks that could still happen from the border from the ground. >> all israeli ground forces, correct me if i'm wrong, are now out -- there are no israeli troops in gaza. what would it take to resend those troops back into gaza? >> well, that would first of all it would take a decision behalf of the government. we're not interested and have not been interested in going into gaza from day one now. it's a month now. that every time we've said calm
will be met with calm. we had to go in and deal with the tunnels. now the tunnels are not a threat. we can, you know, we can operate with caution. we can operate based on the defense capabilities we have. you know, the iron dome is an amazing piece of technology that enables us to make the decisions with a cool head based on our defensive interests and based on the idea that we need to be able to defend the people of israel. >> what would be wrong with the israeli militant opening up a little bit of the borders, the crossing, for example from israel into gaza as a gesture, if you will, to get the negotiations, restart a cease-fire and deal with some of the long-term issues in cairo? >> well, as you know, the crossings are open for humanitarian issues, for deliver of humanitarian goods were fb access into the israeli hospitalance there are people in gaza coming out for treatment in
israeli hospitals even today. we established a field hospital on the border with ga za to enable that. unfoort natalie hamas prevented people from coming out. they've made an active move to limit the access. we can only do so much. and to let them come. but indeed, that is the type of issue that needs to be discussed in those negotiations. i can't really -- that's really not for the military to discuss that. but we have to be prepared. we've enabled the access of humanitarian goods. we've enabled the access of humanitarian movement, going into zba gaza or palestinians coming out or treatment. that's what we're doing. >> thanks very much for joining us. >> good evening. >> let's get more on the breaking news, israel and hamas at war again. joining us from jericho.
the u.s. was deeply disappointed that hamas didn't want to extend the 72-hour cease-fire, the egyptians. i assume you were disappointed in the hamas decision as well. what would have been so bad to keep it going for another 72 hours? >> well, we don't want rockets to be fired, wolf. you know that. and we are now, as i'm talking to you, there are ongoing meetings internally and with the egyptians in order to sustain and maintain and extend the cease-fire. the situation is very difficult and we're trying, as i said, to extend the cease-fire. but at the same time, wolf, i would really urge the international community to look at the dire situation, the catastrophic situation in gaza. they should not use the water
and electricity as negotiations. what does it harm israel to announce that they're opening the passages in the face of anyone who want to send medical supplies, food supplies, running water and engineers to come in and rebuild the sewage system. gaza is flooding. ki tell you that a formula is being worked out now. we want to extend the cease-fire. and i'm sure you're noticing that in the last few hours you haven't heard any rockets being fired. and we hope that this can be sustained and this can be maintained and this can be extended. but at the same time, the dire situation in gaza must be dealt with immediately. and i call upon mr. john kerry personally. this gentleman has so much influence in this region. we need a lot of help in gaza.
our people, 1.7 million people without electricity and water. they're without shelters and roofs. they became homeless. their homes were destroyed with israeli bombardment. and five palestinians were killed in gaza and one in the west bank. we need to end the vicious situation, the dire situation. i think the balance, wolf, is that extension of the cease-fire matched with an immediate e leave yags of the humanitarian disaster situation in gaza. >> the egypt ready to use the restrictions on its border with gaza in rafah? >> see, it's for persons, not equipped for goods. the one for goods, the egyptian/gaza border, controlled
by the israelis. but as far as the movement of people from gaza to egyptian hospitals and so on, with egyptians has facilitated. we don't want business as usual. you're talking 1.7 million people. if they sponsor by air, by sea, the by land, bridges of supplies for gaza, electricity, water, food, medical supplies, whoever can help, temporary shelters, i think the extension of the cease-fire will continue because then the people will be handling their wounds, healing their wounds and their situation. we have to, the day after, focus on one thing. we need to end this abnormal situation between palestinians and israelis. we need to end the israelly occupation. we need a new dawn of palestinians living side by side
in peace. >> i think everyone would be reassured, and i'm sure you would agree with this, if the palestinian authority took charge over everything in gaza right now. the israelis would be reassured, the u.s., the egyptians. is that realistic? >> we are. we are actually -- actually we have now. there is no more hamas government, wolf. this is one palestinian government. >> on a practical day-to-day basis, it is still hamas that is in control of gaza. >> you're right. you're right. we began the process of reconciliation, the process of reintegrating our ministries. that's the point. israel must deal with the national consensus government. there is a government.
egypt and the woborder with raf. the same thing is applicable to the five israeli pass annals. as we need to do is for get everything in the palestinian people that was submitted by the egyptians. either the immediate passages and then the airport and the harbor are not palestinian demands. there are agreements between us and the israelis. the airport was built and destroyed by the israelis. and the dutch and the french began building the harbor and then it was destroyed. all the israelis need to do is say through the national consensus government we will commit -- we honor our agreements in the seaport and the airport et cetera. >> i hope that a little bit of the calm right now does lead to a new cease-fire.
without a cease-fire none of the things that you want and everybody else wants is going to happen. the cease-fire is critical, then all of these other issues can be worked out and discussed if there's a little bit of good faith on both sides. thanks very much for joining us. i hope that you views can preveal with the rest of the palestinians, especially hamas and islamic jihad and they'll honor a new cease-fire. thank you for joining us. up next, an international health emergency declared as ebola is spreading. sanjay gupta is working the story for us. the breaks news, a new round of air strikes in iraq. much more coming up. what they get from alaska, they think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well: jobs all over america. engineering and innovation jobs. advanced safety systems & technology. shipping and manufacturing. across the united states, bp supports more than a quarter million jobs.
their persecution of religious minorities. we're joined by karl bernstein along with gloria borger. what if the air strikes don't work. there's a danger the u.s. needs to put so-called boots on the ground. do you think this president would get involved militarily along those lines after all that has occurred? >> no. i think he's committed not to put boots on the ground. and at the same time there is a fiction here that this is just about humanitarian assistance when in fact people in the white house will tell you this is about trying to halt the advancement of isis and showing the limits of american power as we keep seeing in this part of the world. >> you just posted a new column on this on cnn.com. gloria, what do you think? >> i think what we know about president obama, as carl says, he refuse to put boots on the ground, the narrative of barack
obama is that he killed osama bin laden and he ended two wars and he wants to stick with that. but what we don't know about the president is what he would do if there are unintended consequences. what would he do to avoid mission creep if this situation gets out of hand. and we don't know how he defines this action, vis-a-vis actions he did not take in syria when he was confronted with another humanitarian issue. so i think there needs to be some more definition here to the american public, which is we know what you won't do. but we're not quite sure what you will do or when you will act. >> i'm not sure if there's any way of telling in the future what it is we can do. what we know is we're dealing with the consequences of a terrible mistaken war that we initiated, that the bush administration initiated and the consequences of it.
and the a last thing that this president and any future president wants to do is to make things for horrible as a result of that situation. and so far we've been unsuccessful in dealing with nonstate actors who have taken over through sheer terror, awful horrible murderous people that we have not found with good reason. a way to deal with. we're up genls something we've never seen before. so there is, you know, an argument that is being made that we might need to step back and let these forces fight each other in this sunni and shiite world. >> except when you see a humanitarian thing like you're seeing now. >> right. the people on the mountain top, that's one question. but the question of whether you keep engaging isis with american forces is another. >> if you talk to people like lindsay graham and john mccain
the fact that you have not engaged isis before this, the fact you haven't engaged isis before this leads you into greater difficulty when you have to engage them now. that's where we are. >> as we engaged the last time in iraq. >> but the question is by putting off the inevitable would have taken care of it earlier. you knew you would have to engage isis at some point, right? >> i'm not sure of that at all. >> they have known about this kind of -- >> it's a real threat right now. >> it's a humanitarian aspect. >> gloria, carl, we'll continue this conversation. this story is not going away. a new decoration of the danger of ebola from around the world. we're looking at the impact of the epidemic. first "impact your world".
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by the world health organization which says a coordinated international spochbs is essential to stop the deadly virus from spreading. new cases are confirmed every day in the hot zone. jim clancy shows us. >> reporter: ebola may be spreading like wild fire in west africa but traffic is going nowhere. after a state of emergency was declared this week, military troops set up check points outside the worst hit communities in an effort to try to contain the epidemic. the roadblocks have angered local residents and cut off families. >> a lot of people on this side there's no way for them to get to the children. >> reporter: traffic may be moving in nigeria but a key hospital is shut down and quarantined. it was the site of the first ebola death last month.
a few more cases have surfaced raising fears of a wider outbreak. diplomats from west african states met to talk about how they can combat the virus in their region and a warning from nigeria's health minister says ebola has put the whole world in danger. >> everyone is at risk. every nation is at risk and after individual is at risk. >> doctors without borders have 700 staff trying to save lives in effected countries. . still the aid group calls the response to ebola too slow and says a massive international effort is needed to reverse the epidemic. jim clancy, cnn. >> you can follow us on twitter. tweet me @wolf blitzer.
join us again monday in the "the situation room." you can watch us live or dvr the show so you won't miss a moment. thanks for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in the "the situation room." situation room." the news continues next on cnn. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com america takes aim for the second time. a new round of air strikes in iraq but will it be enough to keep the terrorist group isis from slaughtering tens of thousands of refugees. who are the people that isis are trying to murder and why? we have a special report 5b9 the yazidis in the middle east. and the cease-fire ends in violence. we go to gaza for the very latest. let's go "outfront."