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More U.S. Troops To Afghanistan As Taliban Sees Gains; Former U.S. Military Base Now Under Taliban Control; Death Toll Climbing After Earthquake Struck Haiti; One Person Stabbed At COVID Protest Outside L.A. City Hall; Airline Travel Slows As Concern Over Delta Variant Rises; Afghan Civilians Forced To Flee As Taliban Advance. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 14, 2021 - 21:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Afghanistan in chaos as Taliban control tightens and the U.S. scrambles to rescue its allies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are people we relied on, we promised that we wouldn't leave them behind.

BROWN: American troops rushing to get U.S. staff out of the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I expect that by the end of the weekend the bulk of the 3,000 will be in place.

BROWN: Deaths and devastation after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hits Haiti.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We see new harrowing images, new accounts of dead being pulled from rubble, people being treated in the open air.

BROWN: Haiti's prime minister declaring a state of emergency as the U.S. Geological Survey warns of rising casualties and widespread destruction.

Hospitals overwhelmed by seriously ill patients as the Delta variant tears across the country.

MAYOR LATOYA CANTRE, NEW ORLEANS: The situation is dire, and we are simply out of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have zero ICU beds left for children.


BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for joining me for CNN's special breaking news coverage of the crisis in Afghanistan. The country's security, the Afghan people's safety are deteriorating

with alarming speed. The Taliban have now taken over 22 of 34 regional capitals as the militant group moves closer to the nation's capital of Kabul. In fact, just the two major cities Kabul and Jalalabad are under the control of the Afghan government.

This timeline shows just how fast the Taliban nominated since mid- April when the president announced the U.S. withdrawal. Tonight President Biden is sending in another 1,000 troops there, a total of 5,000 now assigned to help U.S. personnel escape.

As America scrambles to get its allies out of Kabul, many include Afghan interpreters and friends of current and former U.S. military who say their hearts are breaking that those who helped the U.S. are now stranded as targets of the Taliban.


SGT. GERALD KEEN (RET), U.S. ARMY TRYING TO GET AFGHAN INTERPRETER TO U.S.: Now we got to send soldiers back in in harm's way to help evacuate the embassies and these interpreters who fought side by side with us every day and we left there.


G. KEEN: And the world is watching. The world is watching us, every move, as this thing -- this situation compounds hourly. It changes hourly.


BROWN: CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz joins me now.

Arlette, what led President Biden to increase the number of troops to Afghanistan?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, President's decision comes as he and top officials have watched the alarming speed with which the Taliban has seized control of portions of the country, and now so much of the U.S. focus is trying to ensure the safety of the American personnel there and those allies, including Afghans who helped the military over this decades-long war in Afghanistan.

Now earlier today President Biden was in Camp David, currently still is in Camp David, and he convened a secure video conference with top U.S. officials including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Tony Blinken. And after that meeting was when the president announced that he would be sending an additional thousand American troops into Afghanistan to help with what he's described as an orderly and safe drawdown.

That brings the total amount of U.S. troops there to 5,000 as they are trying to prepare for this evacuation of American personnel. In a statement, the president also said that they've issued a warning to the Taliban that any on the ground action that they take that puts American personnel at risk will be met with a, quote, "swift and strong military response."

Now, the president really broke his silence after not speaking about Afghanistan since Tuesday. And in his statement he issued a defense of his ultimate decision to pursue that withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the month.

I want to read you what the president said. He said, "One more year or five more years of U.S. Military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its open country." He added, "And an endless American presence in the middle of another country's conflict was not acceptable to me."

The president also argued that he was hamstrung by decisions made by his predecessor, former President Trump whose administration had negotiated a deal with the Taliban that would have removed American presence from Afghanistan by May of this year.


But ultimately, what we are seeing take place currently on the ground in Afghanistan comes under President Biden's watch. And in the coming days and weeks there will be many questions about how we arrived at the situation. It was just over a month ago that President Biden said it was highly unlikely that the Taliban would seize control of Afghanistan. But right now they look on course to do just that. There will be many questions for this president going forward.

BROWN: Most certainly. Arlette Saenz, live for us from the White House on this Saturday night. Thank you, Arlette.

And as Afghanistan falls under the strengthening grip of the Taliban, President Biden has authorized a total of 5,000 U.S. troops to assist with an orderly and safe drawdown -- that is a quote from the president's statement today -- of American and allied personnel, along with Afghans who helped the U.S.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins me with the very latest.

Barbara, this includes troops already in country. How many are already there and how many more will be sent in?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, good evening, Pamela. What we know now at this hour, there were about 3,000 troops at the Pentagon announced this past week would be flowing into Afghanistan mainly to the airport in Kabul, plus another thousand that were already there. That brings it to 4,000. Today the president decided to move an additional 1,000 from the 82nd Airborne Division that were going to go to Kuwait on standby if needed, and they needed now.

So we now have a package of 5,000 heavily armed U.S. forces mainly Army, Marine, the Air Force which is flying them in. Nobody is saying Special Forces are there but the likelihood is that they are. You know, the Marines and the 82nd Airborne don't go anywhere into a war zone where they are not heavily armed. So this is very significant. Their duty, their job is to perform a security mission to get the Americans out as fast as possible.

But clearly they are prepared to be challenged by the Taliban, prepared to respond, if it comes to that. One of the issues right now for the Pentagon, for the State Department and the White House, is the intelligence about what is happening, because things are moving so fast on the ground. And now the U.S. has very few intelligence assets left there and if things move, they are trying to keep up with events as they unfold.

The big question on this Saturday night really is, how close are the Taliban to Kabul, are they already in Kabul? One of their plans for Kabul, that is the key for the U.S. to try and understand that as they try and move all these Americans and Afghan allies out as fast as they can, and we should take another moment to remember it is the people of Afghanistan really who may be suffering the most in all of this -- Pamela.

BROWN: They are scared, they are feeling desperation. It is just a horrible situation and thousands of Afghan allies who have applied for that specialty immigrant visa waiting to be evacuated from Afghan.

Barbara Starr, I know you have been working the phones all night with your sources as this situation unfolds. It really changes minute by minute. Thank you so much. And I'll know you'll keep us posted on any new developments.

STARR: Thank you.

BROWN: CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is right now in Afghanistan, and she got a chilling look at a former U.S. base there that is now the home of Taliban fighters. Here's her exclusive report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what remains of the U.S. presence in much of Afghanistan, the hollowed-out skeletons of sprawling military bases now under the control of the Taliban.

Once there were hundreds of U.S. and NATO troops at FOB Andar in Ghazni Province. The last Americans left a couple of years ago but their memories still lurk, ghostlike.

(On-camera): It's just so strange to see this, you know.

(Voice-over): The Taliban granted access to CNN, along with award- winning Afghan filmmaker, Najibullah Quraishi, keen to show off the spoils of war.

(On-camera): So we're just arriving at another U.S. base and already I can see a large number of military vehicles over there.

(Voice-over): According to the Taliban, Afghan forces here surrendered three weeks ago when their food ran out, leaving weapons and ammunition and more. (On-camera): When the Americans were here, were you and your men

attacking this base a lot?

MUHAMMED ARIF MUSTAFA, TALIBAN COMMANDER (through translator): Yes, many times we attacked this base when America was here. We did operations. We were using IEDs. The Americans had their helicopters, weapons and tanks on the ground. We Mujahideen resisted very well.


WARD (voice-over): Now they roam through what's left of the tactical operation center. Anything of value will be stripped down and sold.

(On-camera): Walking through what's left of these American bases, you have to ask yourself, what was it all for?

(Voice-over): America's great experiment with nation building now vanished into dust.

MUSTAFA (through translator): It's our belief that one day Mujahideen will have victory and Islamic law will come not to just Afghanistan but all over the world. We are not in a hurry. We believe it will come one day. Jihad will not end until the last day.

WARD (voice-over): It's a chilling admission from a group that claims it wants peace, despite continuing a bloody offensive.

Since the U.S. began its withdrawal in May, the militants have advanced across the country at an alarming rate on the back of American pickup trucks. On the Ghazni Highway, we pass base after base, all flying the militants' flag.

At the Andar bazaar, it's a similar sight. The days of underground insurgency are over and the Taliban is poised to reestablish the very emirate America once came to destroy. But Taliban governor Mawlavey Kamil insists the group has changed since then.

MAWLAVEY KAMIL, TALIBAN GOVERNOR, ANDAR DISTRICT (through translator): The difference between that Taliban and this Taliban is that the Taliban of 2001 were new. And now, this Taliban has experience, disciplined. Our activities are going well. We are obeying our leaders.

WARD (on-camera): A lot of people are concerned that if the Taliban takes power again, women's rights will move backwards. How can you guarantee that women's rights will be protected?

KAMIL (through translator): We assure this to people all over the world, especially the people of Afghanistan. Islam has given rights to everyone equally. Women have their own rights. How much Islam has given rights to women, we will give them that much.

WARD (voice-over): That is clearly open for interpretation. Next to the mosque, we find a classroom of young girls. But their teacher says they will only receive religious education and will not attend regular school. At night, I am separated from my male colleagues and sleep in the

woman's part of the house with the children.

(On-camera): I've been talking to some of the women in this room and I promised that I wouldn't show any of their faces. But it's interesting because, you know, the Taliban talks a lot about how it's changed and girls can go to school now. But I asked if any of these girls will be going to school and I was told, "Absolutely not. Girls don't go to school." And when I said why don't girls go to school, they said, "Taliban says it's bad."

(Voice-over): Here, what the Taliban says goes. This is now what Afghanistan's future looks like, far from what the U.S. once envisioned and what so many Afghans dreamed of, as the Taliban pushes on towards an all but certain victory.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.


BROWN: Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires. And while President Biden inherited the war there, did he also inherit a withdrawal plan doomed to fail?

We're going to discuss with our military and foreign policy experts next.



BROWN: As we watch the breaking news tonight from Afghanistan, we are seeing in real time what may the greatest test of President Biden's foreign policy agenda. What happens in these coming hours and days could define his presidency.

Earlier tonight I spoke with Democratic Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado. He's a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now on the Armed Services Committee. While he says he is heartbroken by what's happening he's not ready to criticize the commander-in-chief.


REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): You know, we are not without risk in Afghanistan. There's no doubt about that. We're seeing the consequence of this. And, you know, I'm going to reserve my judgment on the manner in which this withdrawal happened until we can actually look at this with some separation and perspective and actually have the information we need to have a discussion about it. But the bottom line is, there are threats everywhere.

Everywhere around the world. China, Russia, Iran, South America, Central America, terrorism, narco-terrorism, cyberattacks, ransomware attacks. We face threats that we have never even imagined that we would have faced just five or 10 years ago. And the president has to make decisions about how we spend our blood, our sweat, our treasure, and our limited resources, to address those threats. And that's a hard thing to do. And yes, I am heartbroken about what's happening here. But there are tradeoffs to be had.


BROWN: With us now, Max Boot, senior fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations and a "Washington Post" columnist. Also former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Middle East and South Asia, retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.

Welcome both. Thank you for spending a part of your Saturday night with us as we follow these rapidly developing -- what's rapidly developing in Afghanistan right now.

General, I'm going to start with you. Of these 5,000 U.S. troops now authorized, 1,000 are on the ground already, 3,000 are on their way, and today the president added a thousand more that are being diverted from Kuwait. Does that suggest to you the president was ready for this or got blindsided?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET), FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA: Well, to the extent that the withdrawal of American diplomats and contractors is now going to have happen much quicker than we had anticipated. That's probably the reason why he had to put the additional troops on the ground to provide protection from the embassy, down the airport road, into the Hamid Karzai Airport.


And they need to protect other countries as well, so I think had this not been as hasty a withdrawal and a hasty offensive as the Taliban have shown, it could have been done in a more methodical orderly manner and probably would not have required the number of troops we're seeing going in now.

BROWN: That's really the question here. You know, President Biden had sent out the statement today, he broke his silence after Tuesday talking about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. And he really talked about the decision, he really had no choice here but to withdraw. But then there's also the question of execution.

Max, what do you say about the execution of this withdrawal so far?

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think the execution has been awful and you're seeing the results of that in this rapid collapse of the Afghan military largely because they spent the last 20 years learning how to operate with the U.S. forces, learning to rely on U.S. airpower, U.S. intelligence and other enablers, and to have all of that yanked away from them very, very quickly within the space of a couple of months has led to the disintegration of the Afghan forces.

I think this is a grave blunder on President Biden's part. That will be a stain on his legacy. He was not required to do this. He has repudiated many other mistakes that President Trump has made. The Taliban have not kept up their end of the bargain that they struck with the Trump administration.

So President Biden could have easily maintained 2500, 3500 U.S. advisers in Afghanistan to prevent this catastrophe. And by pulling them out so quickly I think he is assuming responsibility for what is happening right now in Afghanistan, and it's just awful.

BROWN: General, can Kabul be saved or is it now just a matter of time before it falls at this point?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, you made a comment that this was forced upon President Biden. It was not forced on him. He made this decision. This could have been at the time of his choosing. But in terms of your specific question about Kabul, my guess is that Kabul will not fall the way that Berlin fell in 1945. I would expect that the most likely scenario is for the government to step down, capitulate, and then there will be some formation of a national unity government so the Taliban effectively get Kabul without a shot.

I'd like to see that because we've got a lot of good people that we worked with for years and years inside of Kabul and there's really no reason for -- to turn Kabul into rubble.

BROWN: And I just want to be clear. I was paraphrasing what Biden himself said. And I'm glad that you added your perspective. But Biden himself in the statement he released today said -- was essentially conveying that this was the deal that was set by my predecessor and I'm just carrying this out. But I want to talk about the Taliban because our Clarissa Ward spoke to the Taliban. They said they were more disciplined now than back in 2001.

So, General. is the Taliban more empowered now after 20 years?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, under your comment regarding President Biden, his predecessor saw no reason to uphold the decisions made and the deals made by his predecessor. President Biden had no reason to uphold the deals made by President Trump.

I think what's better in the Taliban's case is not their training and their discipline, but I think it's their public relations. They have demonstrated a strategic communications capability that is very, very cities indicated, not only to the world as they've been trying to show Taliban 2.0 in their friendly face, but also the propaganda put out which is really in many ways contributed to the collapse of the Afghan army.

BROWN: Max, let's bring you in on this discussion. The president wanted to be the one to get what George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump couldn't or wouldn't, a clean break. Do you see the U.S. getting back out of Afghanistan soon or are we basically back to war? What's going on? What should we be thinking right now?

BOOT: Well, in some sense we are back to war. I mean, it's kind of ironic that President Biden said he was going to pull all the U.S. forces out by the beginning of September and right now we're actually going to have more U.S. forces there, about 5,000, simply to evacuate diplomats and Afghan personnel. What comes down the road, we don't know, but of course, the president

here is what happened in Iraq after President Obama pulled out in 2011 and, of course, by 2014 following the rise of Islamic State, U.S. troops were back in Iraq.

And that's a pretty clear indication of what a big mistake it is to leave one of these countries with an insurgency on the horizon. And unfortunately President Biden has not learned from the mistake of President Obama.


He's made the exact same mistake. We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know if U.S. troops will be coming back to Afghanistan. It's certainly possible. But there is no question that what we are seeing now is a humanitarian and a strategic catastrophe, and I want to stress this. This was not necessary. As General Kimmitt said, this was not mandated by the Trump-Taliban accord and this was certainly an unwise decision. This is on President Biden's shoulders.

BROWN: All right. General, let me play what Fareed Zakaria has to say about the Afghan army and then I'm going to get your view on the other side of this.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: There is no real Afghan army that is able to defend its country. And what you're seeing in many of these Afghan towns, the most telltale sign is the Taliban is taking them over without much of a fight.

The Afghan troops just melt away. Now if we'd stayed there, could you have kept us all together for another few years? If we stayed in large numbers? Probably, but isn't that telling 20 years at trillion dollars and an army of 300,000 just melts away in town after town?


BROWN: So, General, would delaying the full withdrawal just delayed the inevitable with the Afghan army so powerless?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, we've got to look at a little bit of history. And Max is a historian. He understands this. In 1940, a small group of German units went through the most powerful army on the continent when they broke national line and the French Army crumbled. The same thing happened in 2013 when the Islamic State went against Mosul and the Iraqi army crumbled.

We're seeing the same thing happen here. What is important to remember about the military is -- Fareed is half right. We had all the capability in the world. We had the weapons. They have the helicopters. They have the aircraft, but if an army doesn't have the will to fight, they're going to crumble in front of a small force.

And why did they crumble? Because they didn't think that the Americans had their back. If this had been done in a better manner, in a better process, at a slower pace, this would not have happened. And this is really an unforced error because Obama and his team did this in 2013- 2014, had to go back in.

But it's the same people in the National Security team. Tony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, Lloyd Austin was the last commander on the ground in Iraq, and Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy was National Security adviser for President Biden -- Vice President Biden. They did this in 2014. Had to eat crow. And I suspect they're going to have to eat crow and put people back into Afghanistan as well.

BROWN: All right. General Mark Kimmitt, Max Boot, thank you both.

KIMMITT: Thank you.

BROWN: Coming up, Haiti in a state of emergency right now after a massive earthquake. The death toll is high. It is rising, and another disaster we can see coming is literally just hours away. Details next.



BROWN: In Haiti, quote, "The streets are filled with screaming." That heart-wrenching description coming from a church arch deacon who spoke to the "New York Times." Haiti has declared a state of emergency after this morning's devastating earthquake, a 7.2 magnitude. Details are trickling out of the western hemisphere's poorest nation. The official death toll so far is 304 people with every expectation it will climb much higher. More than 1800 people are injured.

Earlier tonight I spoke with Garry Pierre-Pierre. He was a reporter for the "New York Times" and is a publisher and founder of the "Haitian Times."


GARRY PIERRE-PIERRE, FOUNDER AND PUBLISHER, THE HAITIAN TIMES: When I got the news, the only thing that came to my mind was this old blues song that I love so much that says if it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have any luck at all. And this is the only thing I could think about my beloved homeland, where I was born that, you know, not again, we just went through so much last month with the assassination of the president and today here we are again.

But the situation is perilous, and it's getting worse by the moment. As you said in your intro, thousands are expected dead. Unfortunately, it needs lots of help. I mean, I'm heartened to hear that the USAID, U.S. Agency for International Development director Samantha Powers said that they are on the ground assessing the situation, but so far, based on our reporting on the ground, I haven't seen anybody on location yet from U.S. government. So we're hoping that they can get there as soon as possible because thousands of people are trapped under the rubbles.

And if they don't get them out as soon as possible, you know, we may have really another repeat of 2010 and that was really bad. BROWN: We do not want that. More than 200,000 people died after that

2010 earthquake. I was there on the ground. I saw just the aftermath and how devastating it was, all the heartbreak. But also I saw the incredible resilience of the Haitian people. Given what you just laid out, the hardship after hardship, how do they keep going in the face of all of this?

PIERRE-PIERRE: Well, you know, you just have to live, if you love, and you just have to believe, you have to trust that, hey, something -- one day you're going to catch a break and hopefully that's, you know, ahead of us. But above all I think it really important, part of that bad luck is also bad planning on the part of the administrators and the leaders of the country. I mean, for instance, we knew -- scientists have warned that this was inevitable, but yet 11 years we did very little to prevent this thing from repeating itself.


We know that earthquakes are coming. There's several fault lines, by the way, Pamela, and scientists have been warning about the rift. And we've done very little in terms of shoring up our building code to make sure that, you know, if we do or when we do have these earthquakes that we could mitigate the damage, we could save lives.

And I think that's the conversation we should be having, you know, during the 11 years, you know, the government did very little to prevent this strategy that we're living alive.

BROWN: And I remember the government did very little after the 2010 earthquake in terms of rebuilding in Port-au-Prince. I went there a couple of months after the earthquake and it was really the Haitian people themselves doing the work of rebuilding. And so, you know, you just -- you think about Haiti right now, the storm coming its way, all the devastation it's going through already. What does the U.S. need to do for Haiti right now in your view?

PIERRE-PIERRE: Well, provide aid. I mean, the U.S. has work to do. You know, if USAID is on the ground they know what to do, they know how to do search and rescue mission.


BROWN: And that was Garry Pierre-Pierre, a reporter for "The New York Times" and the publisher and founder of the "Haitian Times."

Well, countries in Latin America are getting ready to send humanitarian aid to Haiti. But now there's another challenge you heard me mentioned to Garry a moment ago. A powerful tropical storm.

CNN's Gene Norman has the details. Gene, you are tracking two storms. When and where are they expected to make landfall?

GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Pamela, we're tracking Fred which was a tropical storm and is now into the Gulf of Mexico, but we'll start with Grace because Grace really has the biggest impact in Haiti. The last thing that a recovery effort needs is wind and rain but unfortunately that is what Grace threatens to bring.

Hurricane hunters went out today, found that the winds were a little bit less than yesterday and I think they may reposition the center of the storm when they next go out. It looks a little disorganized but it still is packing 40-mile-an-hour winds, still bringing some squally weather to places like St. Vincent and also to Guadalup and it's going to eventually bring that kind of weather to Puerto Rico, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands tomorrow, and now a tropical storm warning for those areas has been extended to the eastern part of the Dominican Republic highlighted in blue.

Now in yellow, in the northern part of the Dominican Republic, in the southern part, that's where a tropical storm watch is in effect. Still no watches for Haiti. Anticipate that will happen overnight or first thing tomorrow morning. Now when the storm arrives it could pack 60- mile-an-hour winds. So that should be pretty strong as it moves over Hispaniola. And then it'll take nearly the same track as Fred did and end up in the Gulf of Mexico. But unlike Fred, Grace may not fall apart.

Now when will the strongest winds begin to arrive? Perhaps as early as Monday morning in the Dominican Republic and then Monday afternoon and evening in sections of Haiti that were seriously impacted by the earthquake. And as far as rain, well, this is not a good situation about four inches near La Kai, which is around the epicenter. But take a look at the Dominican Republic and take a look at Puerto Rico. It could be seeing anywhere from six to eight inches of flooding rains and that could also produce mudslides.

Now let's turn our attention to Fred. Now again it was a tropical storm. Now it's just a red, this is an area of low pressure. Hurricane Center can't find an organized center of circulation, but it's spreading some rain across sections of Southern Florida this afternoon and this evening. And that's going to continue.

And by tomorrow Hurricane Center expects that Fred will become a tropical storm again and perhaps head toward the Mississippi-Alabama border with perhaps 50-mile-an-hour winds by Monday and that could introduce the threat for tornadoes where it makes a landfall, but more importantly, heavy rain. Notice it's all to the right of the center. That's what we expect when we see a landfalling system.

Pamela, not good news as hurricane season rolls on.

BROWN: No. It is not good news at all. Gene Norman, thank so much.

And for more information about how you can help those affected by the earthquake in Haiti, go to

And still ahead on this Saturday night, a fight breaks out at a protest over vaccines in Los Angeles with one person stabbed. We are live from the scene up next.


[21:43:29] BROWN: Tonight in Los Angeles, a protest over vaccine mandates turned violent with one person getting stabbed. It happened a short time ago right outside city hall.

CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us live at the scene. And Paul, earlier you heard from one very passionate protester. What else are you hearing?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing from the police about what happened and what led to this melee, Pam. And let me just get right to what started here as a protest across at city hall. A medical freedom protest. These are people who don't believe that anybody in America should be mandated to get the vaccine. Well, it turned violent when counter protesters showed up and the two sides squared off. And from what we understand, somebody was indeed stabbed in that melee. I'll let a police lieutenant pick up from there.


LT. RAUL JOBEL, LOS ANGELES POLICE: But at some point there's about 20, 30 people fighting, fist-fighting, where there were some reports of some pepper spray or bear spray being used, perhaps some personal equipment like skateboards and helmets. When the police got there, we were called to help assist. They found a male that had been stabbed at least one in the chest.


VERCAMMEN: And another officer told me they believe that that person was with the medical freedom group. Now contentious times here in Southern California, in Orange County where they've had a spike in COVID cases, one of the supervisors there is leading a drive to get more people vaccinated.


KATRINA FOLEY, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA SUPERVISOR: We still have about a million people in Orange County that are not vaccinated yet.


And we really need to make sure for those that we can reach, the fence sitters, the people that are waiting for the FDA approval, well, you don't have to wait. The people that are just not quite sure, but want to get vaccinated. It's time. Let's go. Get your vaccination. You'll be better for it and you won't regret it.


VERCAMMEN: Some hospitals in Orange County now reporting that they are having to divert patients to other hospitals or take diverted patients. So situation there where the case level and hospitalizations are rising.

Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Back to you -- Pam.

BROWN: Paul Vercammen, thank you so much. Well, Americans eager to start traveling again are now thinking twice

as this new wave of COVID cases spreads through the country.

CNN's Pete Muntean reports.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long lines persist at airports across the country, but new data shows that travelers have new doubts because of the Delta variant. Tuesday was the slowest day for air travel since mid-June with the TSA screening a half million fewer people than the pandemic record set only 10 days before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are concerned. For good reason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all over the news and I think it scares people, but as long as I stay six feet away from people and I have a mask on I feel like I'm OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just going to make me more aware of my surroundings and just be careful.

MUNTEAN: With infections surging in all 50 states, Southwest Airlines says it has seen a decrease in bookings and an increase in passengers canceling trips, making it difficult for the company to be profitable. Even top destination Disney says its plan to keep reopening theme parks could be changed because of the unpredictable nature of the virus.

BRETT SNYDER, CRANKYFLIER.COM: I think there's no question the Delta variant is having an impact on travel.

MUNTEAN: Airlines are making some changes that convince passengers that flying is safe. United Airlines is requiring that all 67,000 workers in the U.S. get vaccinated by October 25th or face getting fired. The move has been matched by Amtrak but so far United is the only major airline to institute such a mandate.

SCOTT KIRBY, UNITED AIRLINES CEO: I hope it's not a competitive advantage for us, because it's far more important for safety that everyone get vaccinated.

MUNTEAN: The transportation wide mask mandate remains in place, including inside airport through at least September 13th. For now, millions of passengers remain undaunted still taking off as the virus does, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We considered postponing this, too, but we're going to give it a try.


MUNTEAN: There is a silver lining for those who are still travelling. Travel management site Trip Actions says ticket prices have fallen about $76 since they peaked in June -- Pamela. BROWN: Pete Muntean, thank you.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Our top story tonight, the Taliban advance across Afghanistan at warp speed, sending civilians running for their lives. More on that ahead.



BROWN: It's CNN's breaking news tonight, in Afghanistan the lighting offensive of the Taliban that is forcing the Biden White House to take drastic action. The president announcing today another direct deployment of U.S. troops, that will make a total of 5,000 to help with the evacuation of Americans and allies. Just in the last day five more major cities have fallen into the hands of the Taliban, which now control almost all the country's provincial capitals.

This timelapse from the "Long War Journal" shows how swiftly the Taliban took over territory in Afghanistan and the vacuum left by withdrawing U.S. and other Western forces. See the red spread. It started in mid-April after the president announced the American pullout.

It's not just cities and lines on a map being taken over by the Taliban. Thousands of families in Afghanistan are caught up in the violent takeover of their country and they're on the run this weekend.

CNN's Michael Holmes with more.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Families sleep on the hard ground outside this school in Afghanistan. It may not look like the most comfortable place to rest, but at least for now, it is safe, away from the trail of violence left behind by the Taliban's advance.

Many bombs were dropped on our village, one woman says. The Taliban came and destroyed everything. We were helpless and had to leave our houses.

One Afghan official in Kunar Province where the school is located says there are thousands of displaced families in his province alone, trying to escape the fighting but for some it is too late.

The Taliban were firing guns next to our house, one man says. Many bullets came our way, in the end my wife was killed.

A hospital filled with wounded civilians shows just how pitch the battle is. One patient says, I was on the side of the street, I was hit by a mortar and one of my legs was injured.

Some people taking refuge in the country's capital Kabul thinking it is one of the safest bets with the Taliban on the move. This man left the besieged city of Lashkar Gah two weeks ago, but hopes to return one day.

If you ask most people in Afghanistan, 99 percent of the people will say the fighting is not the solution, he says. The only way is peace and the Afghan people want peace. A peace that seems more elusive as more civilians are forced from their homes.

Michael Holmes, CNN.


BROWN: A quick programming note. On this week's "JERUSALEM: CITY OF FAITH AND FURY," we look at Jerusalem during World War II. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Complicating this story is that the British mandate is also closely allied to many Arab leaders at the time. Like Abdullah of Trans Jordan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Abdullah is the son of Ali Shareef from Mecca. He considers himself and is considered by many in the Muslim world to be a descendant of the prophet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abdullah rises as this kind of magical wizard. A brilliant political, very shrewd mind, even smarter than those who came before him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The British liked him. He liked them. He saw himself as a moderate man who could make an arrangement with the British.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trans Jordan was part of the British mandate. Abdullah wanted to be the king of this Arab land, and possibly by being an ally of the British in the war he might get handsomely rewarded.


BROWN: "JERUSALEM, CITY OF FAITH AND FURY" airs tomorrow night at 10:00 right here on CNN.

Don't forget you can tweet me, @pamelabrownCNN. You can follow me on Instagram.

Thank you for joining me this morning. I'm Pamela Brown. I'm see you again tomorrow night starting at 6:00 Eastern.