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Iraq Says American Airstrike Hits ISIS Convoy; Inside the Istanbul Terror Attack; CIA Director: ISIS Probably Planning Attacks on U.S.; Death Toll in Istanbul Rises to 42; Americans Divided on Which Candidate to Best Handle Terror; Can Donald Trump United GOP? Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 29, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That does it for us tonight. CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And we are going to begin with breaking news tonight. Look at the video just one day after the terror attack in Istanbul kills 42 people.
America strikes ISIS.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Iraq says air strikes in a convoy of more than 500 vehicles fleeing the City of Fallujah have killed a large unknown number of ISIS fighters.
According to Iraq Minister of Defense, the operation is still going on. A U.S. official tell CNN that American planes conducted a precision strike on a multi-truck convoy. That after Iraq declare this week it had retaken the city from ISIS.
Again, our breaking news, air strikes on ISIS convoy near Fallujah.
Let's get to our breaking news now. And correspondent CNN's Elise Labott joins us by phone. Elise, good evening. Thanks for joining us this breaking news tonight as you are going to report in a fight against ISIS, what can you tell us?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. Well, the operation according to the Iraqi Minister of Defense began Monday night and still ongoing. And U.S. officials tell CNN's Barbara Starr that the U.S. claims fid conduct a precision strike on a multi truck convoy coming out of the suburb, a southern suburb of Fallujah. ISIS, apparently trying to escape.
Now U.S. officials can't say how many ISIS fighters have been killed, but the Iraqis are saying that that the convoy had more than 500 vehicles in the desert southwest area of Fallujah leaving dozens killed. So, obviously this is still an ongoing situation, very fluid. But
certainly, not surprising that the coalition would be stepping up its attack against ISIS, Don.
LEMON: What does this do to ISIS, Elise? Does this cripple ISIS?
LABOTT: Well, you know that U.S. coalition working along with Iraqi forces have really made a dent in ISIS. I think, you know, one of the things that you've seen in recent day and weeks is that ISIS has really lost a lot of territory in the battlefield, not just in Iraq.
Iraqi forces were capturing Fallujah in the last week or so, but also in Syria, in the Manbij area of northwest Syria, where Syrian Arabs and Kurds with the help of U.S. coalition air strikes have really made a dent in ISIS.
So, this is just I think part of all of that. We, certainly if there were 500 vehicles in the convoy and dozens have been killed, it certainly will be a further loss. But not only in terms of numbers in people killed but also in terms of morale, Don.
And one of the things we've been talking about since the Istanbul attacks and, you know, U.S. officials and Turkish officials are pointing the finger are ISIS that as ISIS suffers these battlefield losses in Iraq and Syria, the feeling is that they are going to try to step up the international plateau.
So, obviously, you know, a big success for Iraqi forces in recent weeks in areas like Fallujah and also with the Syrian Arabs and Kurds could see more terrorist attacks by ISIS outside of the battlefield.
LEMON: The breaking news is that dozens of ISIS militants are killed in an air strike on a 500-vehicle convoy fleeing Fallujah.
Elise Labott is on the phone giving us the details. She's in Washington tonight. Elise, talk to us about the geography here because that's important. Fallujah is just 40 miles from Baghdad. What's the importance of that?
LABOTT: Well, it was one of the biggest cities outside of Baghdad and Mosul. Of course, Fallujah is really a big strategic stronghold of ISIS, but now the big push has been going to be towards Mosul, and the U.S. and Iraqis have been talking how Iraqi forces could advance on Mosul.
Certainly the U.S. would like to see that sooner rather than later. We're hearing maybe sometime in the fall. Fallujah obviously a big gain for the Iraqi forces but Mosul is really the big next target.
LEMON: Elise Labott, I want you to stand by because I want to go to CNN's Ivan Watson now. Ivan is live for us in Istanbul. And, Ivan just one day after this terror attack we're getting the new news here. I don't know if you have any information on what happened in Fallujah, but what is the latest on the terror attack?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's remarkable is that within a matter of hours after three suicide bombers attacked Istanbul's Ataturk airport, the airport was back open for business again. If you can see the traffic coming over my shoulder here, those are taxis, cars coming in and out of the airport, which is back up and running.
[22:05:03] People putting up little memorials to some of the victims killed in this -- what looks like it was a coordinated wave of attacks by at least three suicide bombers and the count, the death toll has tragically risen as a 22-year-old Turkish woman succumb to her injuries in hospital within the last couple of hours.
Now the Turkish government continues to point the finger at ISIS as the number one suspect here. They have not yet identified to us and we don't know whether they, themselves, the Turkish authorities have figured out who the bombers actually were.
The government officials have suggested they believed that the bombers were foreigners. But beyond that we don't know very much except for the fact that they approached the airport on Tuesday night in a taxi.
They were carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, suicide vests and they worked together to penetrate the defenses of the airport and to get inside and spread mayhem and kill and wound so many people. Don?
LEMON: Ivan, we're also hearing that investigators they're obviously talking to the taxi driver who dropped off the terrorists. Do we know any more about the others who might be involved in this plot or are ready to carry out another one?
WATSON: That's another part that we don't really know about. What potential accomplices are there. And you've to be sure that the Turkish security forces are hard at work, tracing phones, rounding up intelligence as well, trying to figure this out.
And you have to take into consideration the fact that the Turkish, police Turkish investigators have been pursuing ISIS for months within Turkey, arresting people in a series of raids in different parts of the country.
But that has not taken out this cancer that has metastasized in Turkey within recent years because ISIS has now, if this turns out to be an ISIS attack, this will have been the third suspected ISIS suicide attack in Istanbul just this year.
ISIS has also assassinated Syrian activist who criticized the group in southeastern Turkish cities in the past. So, it is a presence here, it is very real and this most likely very much a wake-up call to those Turks who might not quite have recognized the threat that this group now poses to their country.
LEMON: Senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson live for us from Istanbul. Ivan, thank you very much.