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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  April 13, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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that coordinationment . we don't know. it will be interesting to see what they gave to the russians before this. >> that's the podium where the president is going to speak. we anticipate him speaking in a coupleov couple of minutes. we just got a go minute warning. as we wait to hear from the president it should be about a minute and 30 seconds or so, it is obviously for any kmacommand in chief one of the most serious decisions they have to make about military action endangering u.s. forces and ripple effects of that particularly in syria where a long-term strategy is something that eluded to the prior administration as well. >> you're putting lives in danger on the grounds. using deadly force on the ground in syria and putting u.s. forces
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in danger likely in limited danger. it's most likely this is a standoff attack. u.s. warships and the eastern mediterranean. it's a graver decision to be taken by the commander in chief. the big question from what we hear from the president is one, how sustained this attack will be and two, what is the goal? is the goal to send a message? or is it a bigger goal? is it to weaken the regime? is it to change the balance of power on the ground there? unlikely. let's listen to the president's announcement. >> and any effort would have to be a sustained effort, a very sustained effort. the president is about to come up to the podium i'm told
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addressing the nation on the situation in syria and what his decision has been. let's listen in. my fellow americans. a short time ago i ordered the united states armed forces to launch from sigs strikes on associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of syrian dictator. a combined operation with the armed forcesov of france and th united kingdom is now underway. we thank them both. tonight i want to speak with you about why we have taken this action. one year ago assad launched a savage chemical weapons attack against his own innocent people. the united states responded with
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58 missile strikes that destroyed 20% of the syrian air force. last saturday the assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter nent civilians near the syrian capitol of damascus. it was a patternover chemical weapons use by the very terrible regime. the evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. these are not the actions of a man. they are crimes of a monster instead. following the horrors of world war i a century ago civilized nations joined together to ban
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chemical warfare. chemical weapons are uniquely dangerous not only because they inflict suffering but because even small amounts with unleash widespread devastation. the purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons. establishing this deterrent is a vital interest of the united states. the combined response to these atrocities will i wantegrate al instruments of our power economic, and diplomatic. we are prepared to sustain this response until the syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents. i also have a message tonight
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for two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing the criminal assad regime. to iran and to russia i ask what kind of a nation wants to be association with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children? the nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. no nation can succeed in the long run by promoting brutal tyrants and murderous dictators. in 2013 president putin and his government promised the world they would guarantee the elimination of syria's chemical weapons. assad's chemical attack and today's response are the direct result of russia to keep that
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promise. russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace. hopefully some day we'll get along with russia and maybe even iran, but maybe not. i will say this, the united states has a lot to offer with the greatest and most powerful economy in the history of the world. in syria the united states with but a small force being used to eliminate what is left of isis is doing what is necessary to protect the american people. over the last year nearly 100% of the territory once controlled by the so called isis kal fate in syria and iraq has been liberated and eliminated.
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the united states has also rebuilt our friendships across the middle east. we have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region including contributing large amounts of money for the resources, equipment and all of the anti isis effort. increased engagement from our friends including saudi arabia and others can ensure that iran does not profit from the we rat case of isis. america does not seek an indefinite presence in syria under no circumstances. as other nations step up their contributions we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home and great warriors
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they are. looking around our very troubled world americans have no illusions. we cannot perj the world of evil or act everywhere there is tier any. it's a troubled place. we will try to make it better but it is a troubled place. the united states will be a partner and a friend but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people. in the last century we looked straight into the darkest places of the human soul. we saw the anguish that can be unleashed and the evil that can take hold. by the end of world war i more than 1 million people had been killed or injured by chemical
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weapons. we never want to see that gasly specter return. they have marshalled their righteous power against brutality. tonight i ask all americans to say a prayer for our noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their missions. we pray that god will bring comfort to those suffering in syria. we pray that god there guide the whole region of dignity and peace. we pray that god will continue to watch over and bless the united states of america. thank you and good night. thank you. >> just heard from president trump speaking at the white house announcing u.s. military action is underway.
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strikes kn strikes now occurring. he says retaliation for chemical attacks on the city from last saturday. we have correspondents. we have new information. we have more on the dimensions. the president saying this is being done in conjunction with france and the united kingdom. >> yes. i suspect we will hear from british and french authorities. we have learned that in about 50 minutes we expect a briefing here at the pentagon. it is expected to be televised in the briefing room. we expect a military update on what has occurred. perhaps one of the most compelling things from a military point of view that the president said is that the u.s. and presumably the coalition is prepared to sustain a response until the syrians stop using prohibited chemicals. sustained response. we'll see what that means.
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the response tonight is military. it seems to be a hint that the u.s., french and british authorities are prepared to have further military action. i think it's very much worth taking a moment about the fate of u.s. troops. there are about two thousand u.s. troops in syria tonight on the ground, mainly special forces involved in the fight against isis. they are mainly -- this is no secret. they are in the north, in the east, in the south in various areas. where the regime holds in the west and northwest this is an area controlled by the regime and russian authorities. u.s. troops are not there.
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we are talking about radar and missiles that could be used to target u.s. pilots, u.s. cruise missiles coming into the area. >> and let me just tell you, we are also learning that witnesses are telling that explosions are being heard in damascus, the capital. >> right. this is what we have been watching for. it is every indication going after some of the power structure that controls the chemical weapon. i think it's fair to say you will not see u.s. pilots. it is way too heavy and way too risky. it would be capable of standing off back in the mediterranean
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firing in towards damascus. that's what we'll be looking for. >> yeah. he is in northern syria. to barbara's point they did talk about a sustained effort. he didn't say a sustained military effort. he mentioned diplomatic. clearly the president wanting to telegraph this is going to be not just sort of a one off effort, that et is some sort of a sustained effort in order to stop syria in the future from using chemical weapons. >> absolutely. until the regime stops its use. we have been hearing from an eyewitness explosions as donald
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trump was giving the speech. it is absolutely unclear how long they will go on for. the fact that there are explosions heard in damascus says -- he said they are going after chemical weapons facilities. in fact within that particular speech there was sort of a bookend. it is quite clear they do not seek involvement inside the syrian. but they are into a new chapter potentially here. it is the first morning call to prayer here inside syria as people begin their day. it will be quite a different one from yesterday. of course it isn't clear the extent of the damage they plan to inflict on the syrian regime at this point. he was very clear the british and french militaries will be involved in the operations ahead
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of us here. there has been something of debate over the last few hours publicized about how far these strikes should necessarily go, sand anderson. >> in terms of military capabilities of france in this region how much do we know about what sort of assistance and what sort of part they would play? >> on the british side they have an air base that has been used for many many years. they also have two types of sub marines which are capable of carrying tom misses. there could be british sub marine missiles. on the french side they had
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bases. they also have in the region these strike fighters. it has a range of 300 to 350 miles. sit similar to the long range missile that we have only a shorter range. for our sake it has a stand off of about 650 miles. they could be fired from aircraft that we the united states have based there. we have bombers there. there are f-15s that can fire this missile. lots of opportunities to launch cruise missiles.
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i suspect that you'll hear it was mostly cruise missiles involved in these strikes. >> and you say the president tweeted earlier in the week about smart weapons. just in terms of not wanting to fly has subjected to anti aircraft batteries. >> that's right. a year ago it was 59 tomahawks. you can include air launched cruise missiles as well as sea laufr launched cruise missiles. it is really about being stand off and keeping out of the range of the sophisticated and very capable russian air defense systems. they have a range of about 250 miles. they carry the air defense systems. they are scattered throughout syria. the other thing about them is they are mobile. they are on trucks and they can
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use them very very quickly. it is a hazardous situation. >> yes. the president saying who wants to be associated with a mass murder. they say they failed to keep their promise to eliminate chemical weapons used in syria. he called the -- he said using chemical weapons, not the actions of a man but crimes of a monster. it's very easy to say that. it is difficult to try to effect events on the ground long term. >> indeed. the president actually said that. we are not trying to do everything ourselves.
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we can't. we have had further clarification about the intep intention from the british prime minister. this evening i authorized british armed forces to degrade the syrian regime's chemical weapons capabilities and to deter them from future strikes. she said nobody should be surprised by this action, that there was no other way according to the british, the frefrmg anc the united states. they say they have tried for years to basically fix this problemov of der tering the ser yam regime from using tchemical weapons. everyone i have been talking to for the past couple of days all
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of them say that this has to happen right now because we cannot allow chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction to be normalized. that what assad has done in the several p years of this war. the president pointed out to having responded to the last major chemical attack a year ago. it hasn't deterred assad. he was very strong against president putin. the russians do bear at least a response because they did seek to stop the obama administration taking any action even after the failure to cross the red line by promising that their contribution would be to remum assad's chemical weapons. in the meantime they are saying these are false flag attacks. that is the u.k. that committed the chemical weapons crime. just really strange stuff. >> yeah. >> this is something that the
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allies would be forced into. >> and the u.s. saying today that based on their analysis that the syrian regime has used chemical weapons at least 50 times over the last several years. >> yes. >> i do want to bring in new information on military assets that are being used at this hour. what have you learned? >> anderson, we have just confirmed both ships and in fact aircraft have been used tonight in this round of strikes. it gets us to the points of u.s. pilots and their fate. we have every reason to believe no manned aircraft are flying over syrian air space. we now know that aircrafts are in the air. they have the capability of staying out of syrian air space either over the mediterranean to the west or in other air space of surrounding countries and
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firing towards damascus. this is significant now. of course a year ago we only saw cruise missiles being used. the fact they are using manned aircraft certainly does add an element of risk even if they stay out of syrian air space. they want to stay as far offshore as they can because of russian and syrian radars and missiles that could be capable of shooting them down. it was several weeks ago. an israeli flying them back was shot down after it attacked what it said was an air base inside syria. so these air defenses, these radars and missiles are key to keeping the troops safe and keeping the pilots safe. >> yeah. i want to bring in general
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marks. what advantage does adding aircraft into the mix give you? >> let me show you something that i think is going to be incredibly important. let's start to this to the point that john kirby just made. when you look at the presence of u.s. and wall sliallied capabil the region, what you have, clearly you have ships coming into the mediterranean and prepositioned that can strike into syria. what it does is increases the risk and the capabilities of multiple attack angles going against targets in syria. let me move to this. clearly this is a depiction of what the capabilities are in
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terms of russian air defense. most of those are located here. those two sea ports here in the mediterranean. this is the distance the russians can reach with their capabilities that are indicated here. this is a mobile capemeability t they have. it is important to realize this mobility allows them to move that circular defense capability throughout the map. >> i want to tell you syrian state media is reporting they have engaged u.s. french and british targets. that's according to the syrian regime. take it for what it's worth. >> what it means is has been reported the capabilities are coming from cruise missiles that have a standoff capability. no u.s. aircraft will go into this very contested air space. there's no reason -- by doing
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that it would increase either an attack capability that the united states or allies want to achief on the grand. it can be achieved from a stand off capability. >> cnn reported that messages have been passed to moscow about the u.s. and allies intentions against the use of chemical weapons. what level of information would the pass along in advance of a strike like this? it is a great concern to general mattis and others has been a direct con franation. >> correct. this is the chal lepg. this is the visualization that we get to. these are locations where syrian aircraft and other capabilities are. here is where we already know attacks are ongoing. what we see here in red are locations where russian forces,
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not just aircraft but ground forces, intelligence ca capabilities to include ground capabilities coexist with syrian forces. the challenge is chemical capabilities are at any of those locations you now have a very precise requirement to ensure collateral damage can be determined. you have to increase to ensure you have standoff and separation between russian targets. we are not targets the russians. if we were to have an accidental engagement it would immediately cause escalation. that's what is driving the secretary of defense's caution. his primary thing is to present to the president of the united states a solution, and he did, that is pun tifr that takes capabilities that assad has chemical capabilities,
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inventory, delivery means off the table. they have to be degraded. what has to happen is we can't afford to go after russian targets because that just would put us into a level of escalation we can't have. >> we'll continue to check in with you and we are anticipating a military briefing in about 30 minutes or so from now approximately. stay with us. we'll bring you that live. we have reporting on some of the targets. what have you learned, nick? >> reporter: we are hearing that the airfield near damascus may have been hit. that is thought to be associated with syrian air force strikes that will be carried out from the eastern suburbs. so the first evidence perhaps
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that specific air may be being hit relate to last weekend's attack. you run the risk that are embedded within those areas. it is unclear but i should point out it giving them scope to move out elsewhere. given this was seven days ago last saturday that this kem wall attack took place and given this public statement by the white house by president trump himself tweeting out about a smart strike coming, warning russia how possible it is for syrian forces to have relocated and to
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have moved aircraft that's important to them, helicopters that are important to them, any kind of chemical weapons assets or building blocks or materials? >>. >> yeah. on i have usely it has been to intermink l with russian basis to make it hard for any u.s. air strikes to be sure they are avoiding targets remember donald trump said 18 missiles took out 20% of the syrian air force. that is a remarkable number if it is true suggesting how degraded the air force was at that moment a year ago. we know that frankly it must surely have been openly displaying or boasting of its
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air power so it is possible that the things that the syrian government is dependent is the building blocks of existence here. they could be damaged enough to inflict across that is felt still months ahead. if you start filling that do you at some point risk hitting iran troops, russian troops. there have been statements suggesting they may have been killed in that particular blast widening the scope of conflict here. it shows you how many different fors are involved here, what we are talking about and the frequency. >> yeah. we are also back with jim. you have been covering this as much as anyone. just in terms of the difficulty of finding targets long term, if this to be as the president said
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a multi-national sustained effort, i assume he is not just talk about militarily. at a certain point the number of targets degrades rapidly and without risking hitting iranians and that's why he talked about this being military economic and diplomatic initiatives moving forward. >> let's be clear. it is worth remembering. this is an enormous reversal. less than two weeks ago the president announced that the u.s. would withdraw from syria surprising his military kmapders. he followed up with cnn reporting and instructed the pentagon and national security staff to begin withdraw of u.s. forces from syria. less thacn two weeks later the president has committed hips and administration and u.s. military
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to a sustained campaign in response to syrian chemical weapons attacks. to be fair it's a different situation. the u.s. ground forces there withdrawing them is different from a sustained what appears to be an air campaign. it is allowing them to sustain military commitment on the ground there in response chemical weapons attacks. we should make clear in the last year that profited the previous u.s. response there have been dozensov dozens of attacks with chlorine gas. it brought no u.s. military response. has the president committed
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himself to military response by the u.s. and allies which is syrian regime has used frequently? it would mean you'll see missiles flying towards syria many times a month and many times a week. that's the question here. that's something that the president didn't answer in his speech. what is clear is in the span of less than two weeks u.s. policy has if yoturned on a dime. it has shown very little activity. it is something that if the president wants, you know, that promise to be delivered on then the u.s. military will have to deliver on that with military power. >> yes. he is in northern syria. what are you hearing? >> yeah.
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this plan applies here. we are getting preliminary. he is talking about explosions what appears to be a research facility. on top of that the air base to the south of the capitol has also been hit. it is said to have been a place out of which the iran military has been hit this target list slowly growing. there is a possibility we may not be seeing the political tear in this. they had a week to get themselves to dofrcover. >> what is so difficult about syria is just the level of action the u.s. is willing to take or any president is willing to take. it is something the prooevious
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administration wrestled with. they did not respond as they indicated they would. there are not a lot of great options depending on how aggr s aggressive and how much of a commitment one wants to make to getting involved with a deadly conflict that's been going on for seven years in the middle east again. >> yeah. i mean, you know, the particular things for mistakes to go wrong here it doesn't look like they want to drag the u.s. into this war. it is clear that washington wants very little to do with this. so unless we see some unforseen error it's unlikely you'll find the u.s. as a new par tparticip.
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perhaps rattling to make iran and russia feel like this use of chemical weapon was an embarrassment to them. the first use got the international community extraordinarily up in arms. russia came forward and persuaded the syrian regime to say it would give up chemical weapons. it was an element that they may feel it again tonight. >> yeah. military briefing we are expecting from the u.s. military. bring it to you life -- live. >> it is the united kingdom as well as france. >> i think what we are seeing
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here is the beginning of a coalition in terms of the actual operation. it has been in existence for some time. for specifically the syrian operation it looks like it is an integrated air campaign. what that means is an air campaign that actually poised to go after a series of targets using different types of missile syst systems that are out there. they can be handed in from ships or aircraft. it is possible that we did in fact have in fact overflown syrian territory with a manned aircraft. what we could see is us testing those air defenses. first we would do it with unmanned aircraft to weaken those air defenses. after they have been sufficiently degraded we would
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then use manned aircraft. it would be a very risky thing do. >> how difficult is it to sustain a military campaign like this in tells of targeting given the considerations of civilians on the ground but russian forces on the grounds, iranian forces on the ground. >> one of the most difficult thing is the list. you eventually run out of the targets. the fact that not om have the syrians have a fairly limited capability anyway but the capability has been degraded by the civil war. the added complication is of course the fact that the russian and iranians are there. when you put together a target list you have as much as possible to make sewer yure you
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where the rush shasians are. you use that information then to program the weapons that you're flying against that you want to hit. >> if you could standby i do want to bring in general james marks who is at the map to give us a sense of some of the things that he has been talking about. >> yeah. what i have been able to receive from open source reporting that is coming from online, capabilities that are scraping web sites and some reporting or at least some chatter that's taking place. i hate to kind of lay out the confusion but essentially they are in damascus. we have strikes in these three, districts that are around
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damascus. and research and development capabilities inside damascus. it is important to realize because it speaks to degrading a capability that could sustain chemical attacks. >> we have thu information on the duration of strikes. what are you learning? >> that's right. anderson just spoke to an administration official that said this isn't over. this is is not the end of the u.s. response to syria's chemical attacks. this response likely to be multi-wave, not a single wave.
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that is a dirfference from what we saw a year ago. the administration making clear this will be a multi-layered response to syria's use of chemical weapons. >> you don't mean just militarily. the president talked about economic and diplomatic. >> absolutely. you heard him offering the wealth of the u.s. economy. that seemed to be part of the u.s. economy. come to join us on more peaceful terms etcetera. the message from this is beyond those steps with the military response you have seen tonight is not the end of the military response. >> i want to go back to layden. we'll be hearing from military
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briefers in about 20 minutes or so. to his point of a sustained military response you talked about the difficulty of military targets. there was a probe in northern iraq and syria in years past. again, adding in the russians and iranians and sifcivilians a just in temples if trms of if t are chemical related how many are related to chemical? >> that's a good question. even the intelligence agencies don't know for sure. the general guess is that you have installations that could house chemical weapons. the number of actual places where they are stored and deployed is less than that. what you're looking for are areas where you know they are
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going to be putting chemicals like the ones that were used in barrel bombs and put them in helicopters. that's the place where you want to get them either at the storage facility or transportation areas. you probably have about a dozen targets easily that you could use for that particular purpose that would be chemical areas. the problem there is poe ttenti for collateral damage. >> i am told we have video in. it doesn't seem to show much. it is the first we are seeing. it is part of some of the strike. let's take a look. >> oh, my god. here is a missile.
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>> new information from the british on targeting strikes as well. >> yeah. as you see that video coming in we have pretty good detail from the british actually who are basically saying they joined precisely 46 michnutes ago this attack. they say they are using royal air force tornado gr-4s. they launched storm shadow missiles at a former missile base where the syrian regime is assessed to keep chemical weapons stockpiled. they have said that very careful analysis has been aplplied and o minimize the risk of contamination once they shoot and strike these. remember, these are chemical weapons and precursors and stockpiles. even though they want to go
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after this it's important to make sure it doesn't contaminate and doesn't effect sifcivil civ. they are doing that work there. we did hear that whatever happened it had to be bigger than what happened last year. what happened last year with the 59 missiles didn't stop assad. so they are talking about all of these attacks in damascus. i was told regime assets must be painful to the assad regime to the point that he understands that this will no longer be tolerated. i think that you heard the president and the others say the sustained nature of such an attack is to respond potentially more times when they used these chemical weapons in homes that they won't anymore. >> we are going to be going to nick walsh.
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these are images with regettie in. let's take a look. we are seeing the images for the first time. not seeing much right there. nick, i understand you have new information on targets. >> reporter: yes. coming in slowly. they are well known to have good access to regime information. they go and talk about a number of bases for the republican guard being hit as well as the fourth division of their armored group who have been reported to be in action where that attack occurred last weekend. on top of that we are hearing from an eyewitness near aleppo, half of which was under rebel control until a brutal assault to kick the rebels out a couple
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of years ago. so multiple different sites here at this point, not the simple one that we saw back in april. it was considered to be the site. multiple pronged attacks here. a list of targets continues to grow. >> nick, one of the things that the president tried to do tonight was appeal or warn depending on what verb you want to use. russia and iran saying what sort of a nation wants to be associated with a mass murder criticizing for failing to liv r up to a promise. the likelihood though of any change in belaihavior from russ and iran, what is that
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likelihood? >> very little indeed. it shows it's a big player in the region. it wants the mediterranean air space to remain a powerful force for it. iran is relishing the fact that it has a clear transit route and some argue straight through to lebanon. these are the new realities of the middle east here. donald trump's statement was quite leericlearly designed to far they wanted to go to appeal to potentially distance themselves from a chemical weapons use alleged by the u.s. and france at this point. it was in 2013 when gas was used but russia pressured syria to give up chemical weapons and join the chemical weapons convention that had not been a
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party to. we are in a different world -- and denying the use of chemical weapons entirely saying inspectors couldn't find them this past week. interesting to see donald trump there quite clear it's about chemical weapons and not about clanging balance in the region. >> and nothing about regime change which was something the u.s. had hopely talked about. al he joins us tonight. before he joins us tonight i want to tell you syrian state tv tells you they have intercepted 13 missiles. take it for what it's worth. syrian authorities have lied systematticly. they are claiming they shut down
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13 missiles. this is whatyou served in sea--e embassy in damascus. what stands out to you tonight. >> i would discount much of the what the syrians are saying. they claim this all of the time. they maven gauged the missiles and may have even hit some. but 13 -- we don't know how many were launched. so we'll see what happens there. i did want to talk to the tar t targeting of this. if you remember a year ago, we struck sherrod air base is isolated base off the beaten path. so the risk to -- for civilian casualties was fairly low. what we're hitting right now, messy air base, jeremiah, these are research and development facilities in the center of damascus. so the fact we feel confident
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enough to put cruise missiles into a major metropolitan area saying that we've shifted from an isolated air base to a metropolitan air base. it is on the south side of damascus. key part of the chemical weapons and the weapons are stored at the messe air base and launched from the air base 20 miles north east of damascus also hit. so we are going after the part of the compel -- the chemical weapon program and we'll see how accurate the targeting has been. >> nic robertson is standing by in moscow. any statements by the regime in moscow? >> nothing by the regime, but the main opposition figure here denied the opportunity to run in recent elections but he said
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assad is no friend of the russians and president putin is using the money of russian pensioners to prop up assad and keep him in power. so certainly the opposition here using this as an opportunity to get their voice out, thinking about what president trump said military economic and diplomatic measures to be brought to bear here. it was president macron of france that called president trump by phone today and told him that he was disappointed and worried about the state of the -- the civil war in syria and the humanitarian situation and the desperate nature of the state for people and civilians and he wanted to see dialogue there to bring about peace and stability. but the last line of the communication from the french government was very interesting. it said president macron told president putin that he hoped that the dialogue between them could continue and that really does seem indicative that perhaps something was coming. now we're seeing it playing out,
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that after this, president macron will be picking up the phone or will continue to have that dialogue and president trump is out lining, the diplomacy shall continue but over the last few days we've just had pushback and bluster and denial and told they are responsibility forr -- for ensue that bashar al assad got rid of the chemical weapons and it is pushed back if you target syria, you are endangering the stability not just of the region but of the world. so nothing official yet. but the opposition here clearly has something to say about it, too. >> nick, i just want to remind our viewers, we're expecting a pentagon briefing at 10:00 p.m. eastern time, just in about seven or six and a half minutes and we'll bring that live. and we're going to jim bittermann standing by in paris. this is an operation of not just
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american or british and also french forces. >> french -- as nick indicated, the french have been forward-leaning on this and also back in 2013 when there were chemical weapons attacks. we just got a communic e from the president in the last hour, about 3:45 in the morning here and the president said that db confirms they've joined and also confirmed what you have been talking about, that this action will be limited to syrian regime forces that are involved with the production and delivery of chemical weapons. so they are hoping that it will be limited to just those kind of things. the president indicated one small hiccup in the operations and that is he said he will organize a debate in the parliament in days to come to talk about this military intervention. he could order the troops into
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action but he has to take it to the parliament. so if this is a sustained operation, it could spark controversy out on the streets. so we'll have to see what the public reactions is to this. but yes, the french are involved here, they've got ten fighters in the uae and jordan that could fly missions and a frigget off the coast with cruise missiles and air defense missile so a number of different assets in the region that they could call -- bring into bear. one of the majority assets they have, the aircraft carrier in port to be refitted and not any part of this action unless this goes on for some months. >> jim bittermann in paris. we are expecting a briefing in just about four minutes from now. i'll bring in our doug brinkley and our historian and briefly to admiral kirby, what should we expect from the military
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tonight? in terms of specific information? >> i think it is possible this briefing could be by secretary mattis himself and i suspect that he'll lay out what we hit and why we hit those sites and probably a good sense of what munitions they were struck. so put some definitiveness to what we've been reporting over the last hour or so. i think he will also really try to bound this, anderson. i think he'll be clear that this does not mean we're getting further enmeshed in the civil war and say it doesn't change the military mission on the ground in syria which is still focused on isis and while he'll admit there could be follow-on strikes based on the battle damage assessment of these strikes or and russian or iranian reaction and i think he'll say they'll take that as it comes. i don't think he'll be announcing some major long -- prolonged air campaign. i think he will be measured and keep this within a scope. >> as we wait for the military briefing, i'll bring in doug
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brinkley. i wonder what you make of what we're seeing tonight. >> i thought president trump made it clear that assad is evil and despicable and we know that and many people in the west think about that. the question is it more of a mattis limited strike or a bolton let's go at it for three or four days. the good news is donald trump has worked to have a coalition of the willing. he has great britain and france working with us. but it is raining cruise missiles on syria right now and in the middle east it is such a tender box anything could wrong. in the cloak of darkness, we can't see what is happening. but in the morning, some of the missiles might have killed civilians and we'll have to keep an eye on it. >> doug, just in terms of -- obviously for the commander-in-chief, this is one of the most difficult decisions to make. to address the nation like this. he did make very clear that this was limited in terms of the targeting and this is not -- made no mention of regime change or long commitment to syria and
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point out we just learned b-1 bombers were also used in this operation. >> well and you have that phrase sustained response that we're saying over and over again. that is what jumped out at me what the president said, what is a sustained response. this isn't just hitting one air base or destroying the damascus airport. this is wanting to make a very large and loud message and we don't know what russia is going to do or say. we don't know what iran will do. israel right now -- of course is giving the key intelligence of where to strike. but they must be on high national security alert in that country and could this be a contained strike in syria or is there a ripple effect or a reverberation throughout the middle east and it does ring our bells of the gulf car that you covered anderson and with george herber walker bush 41 and then george w. bush, 43, meaning night time bombing in the middle east.
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>> and also, doug, this is a president who just some two weeks ago talked about deescalating the u.s. involvement in syria, some 2000 u.s. special forces in a number of locations throughout the country fighting against isis. the president cited the huge progress that has been made in that and he talks about bringing those forces home, focusing more on the u.s. but events on the ground often overtake the best laid plans or desires of any administration. and you have this strike on saturday in douma. >> absolutely. syria is a conundrum. nobody knows what to do there. it cost president barack obama a real kind of cut to his legacy when he did the famous red line there. donald trump had campaigned on basically wanting to stay out of the syrian situation. the fact of his closeness or seaming closeness to putin's russia has been a factor.
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but donald trump showed earlier in his presidency when it comes to assad's deployment of chemical weapons that he's ready to be marshall and he was last year and he's doing it again this year and in a much larger and bigger way than i think bolton may be having an influence on the scope of what is going on here and we'll have to see if general mattis is the one to speak to us in a few minutes. >> and admiral kirby, as we wait for the briefing at the top of the hour, 10:00 p.m. here on the east coast and we might have to jump in on you, but just in terms of -- it looks like -- we are getting ready so let's take a look. >> all right. >> good evening. lat -- ladies and gentlemen, as you know the syrian people have suffered on the assad