>> announcer: this is al jazeera. ♪ hello and welcome to the news hour, i'm martine dennis drive from our headquarters in this doha, coming up in the next 60 minutes, amnesty international accuses shia militias of war crimes in iraq. no let upin u.s.-lead air strikes on the town of kobani. but are they working? military chiefs meet in washington to decide what comes next.
strategic gain, houthi rebels seize a key sea port in yemen. europe takes more precautions against ebola as a u.n. worker in germany dies from the disease. ♪ we start this news hour with breaking news coming out of saudi arabia where a shooting has taken place. one american citizen in the capitol has been shot dead. another has been wounded. now their car was fired upon as they stopped at a gas station very close to the stadium east of riod. police say they have arrested a suspected gunmen. we'll bring you more on this story as it develops. at least 24 people have died in a suicide back in iraq. the bomber rammed his car into a
check point in the mainly shia neighborhood in bagdad. over 50 others were injured. this comes a day after similar attacks killed dozens of people in bagdad. meanwhile amnesty international is accusing the iraqi government of war crimes. it says government-backing shia militias are using the guise of tight -- fighting terrorism to carry out revenge attacks. it has carried out what is called execution-style killings. it also says there have been kidnappings with some families having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in ransom. it warns the crimes are fuelling a cycle of sectarian violence with shia fighters exempt from
-- punishment. the senior crisis responder for amnesty international says the government hasn't done much. >> reporter: -- >> the prime minister says he wants a more inclusive government. there is a jostling of position by one of the militia leader who used to be in the previous government and heads one of the militias. so until now the government hasn't done anything. but it should initiate proceedings to disband these militias. their existence preclude any possibility of a unified iraq army.
>> one of the groups known as the league of the righteous has denied these claims. it says: now it goes on: all right. let's go thrive our correspondent in bagdad, imran khan. so what we're hearing from amnesty is a documentation of alleged atrocities being committed by the shia militias. >> reporter: that's right.
the amnesty international report is damming. this is something we have heard over the last year, some of the shia militia groups have gone way beyond their agreement to try to protect and hold towns against the isil threats and have gone on to fight with antigovernment groups. now i have been speaking to a b in of shia political figures trying to gauge some reaction. we got the official statement from them. they say that this is about foreign agendas, and you'll hear this quite a lot. the idea that there are other people influencing. i have also heard is there is a fundamental misunderstanding about what the shia militias are
for. they have answered the call that all iraqis have come to help fight isil, and they are a legitimate fighting group. so they are saying they are actually part of the iraqi security. >> but it does highlight the need for a national security force that comprises all sections of society. >> reporter: that's absolutely right, and that's the big talking point here in iraq at the moment. they are trying to bring the shia militias into the national army and forge the home front guards to help in the right against isil. they are trying to do all of this, but it's very, very difficult when the army is so sectarian and has competing agendas within it. they are very suspicious of the iraqi army. and that's one of the things that the report goes into.
saying you do need to form this national unified iraqi army. all right. imran khan thank you very much. the fight against isil has forced many iraqis to flee their homes, but as zana h oda reports many from the sunni community aren't finding safety no matter where they go. >> reporter: this man has relied on government handouts to survive for a long time, but in the last four months he hasn't received any. he has been displaced by the fighting in iraq, and doesn't have much hope because he believes the state has collapsed. his family escaped from their home when it was a battle ground. then a few weeks ago, isil was pushed out only to be replaced by shia militiamen. >> translator: what is the government doing? where should we go? our house has been destroyed.
and now there are militias there. >> reporter: many of the people found refuge further north in kirkuk but still they don't feel safe. they say they are targets of shia-armed groups. >> translator: shia militia men will not allow us to return to our villages. >> reporter: the iraqi government considers these men volunteers who joined the fight against isil on behalf or as part of the shia, dominated iraqi army. government officials insist those same so-called volunteers will continue to support the army and police until they are ready to secure areas on their own. but for many sunnis, their presence is tearing their country apart.
he explained how they should allow the 700 policemen from his town to return to work now thailz has left. >> translator: the people are the victims of all of these groups. we ask the government to send an official force. >> reporter: in a country with a history of sectarian conflicts iraqis are increasingly losing confidence in each other. security is what they all want. but for now there is no one authority that seems to be representative of all factionings, one that can hold this country together. confronting isil is what military leaders from around 20 countries are going to be talking about in washington in just a few hours from now. this will be the first time that high-ranking officials have come together since the coalition was formed last month. >> reporter: the obama administration's entire strategy in iraq is dependent on iraqi
soldiers fighting and winning the war against the islamic state of iraq and the levant, but has isil fighters continue to march across iraq, the obama administration is facing questions, can it work? the top u.s. general just admitted that military helicopters had to be called in to stop isil from taking the bagdad airport. >> they were within, you know, 20 or 25 kilometers -- >> reporter: of bagdad airport? >> sure. and had they overrun the iraqi unit it was a straight shot to the airport. so we're not going to allow that to happen. >> reporter: the united states spent more than seven years training the iraqi military, the general who lead the mission says they need more training. >> the air strikes are helping slowing down the advance. it's buying us time so we can continue and begin to train the iraqi security forces in order to do the things we think they should be capable of doing. >> reporter: but some analysts
say that might not be enough. >> i don't know how these things happen without some kind of american advisory role, because the mission ahead of them is going to be difficult, and the basically health and coherence of the iraqi armed forces are still questionable at this stage. >> reporter: but the obama administration has ruled out sending troops to iraq. the president is being criticized by some of those closest too him. they say obama hasn't done enough to stop isil. the administration says the president's plan will take time, and they are betting they have enough time to accomplish their mission before isil accomplishes theirs. let's talk to the former assistant of u.s. secretary of defense. he joins us live now from washington. there's a clear distinction between those who joined the
coalition to operate against isil in iraq, and those who join joined to operate against isil in syria. >> well, there is, and that's one of the reasons why they are trying to get them together. they need to coordinate their tactics because when you have these jets that fly, you know, hundreds of miles an hour, you have to be very, very care. that they have common frequencies, and make sure that they hit the right targets and what they should do if we have to step up the campaign, or what they should do if there's a particular emergency they have to respond to. >> and there seems to be a clear need and everyone seems to be on the same page with regard to the next stage of both theaters, and that is that ground forces are necessary. do you think that president obama will be able to persuade any one of these coalition members to get involved on the ground in either syria or iraq?
>> i think the fact that you couldn't get turkey to come in to kobani shows it is going to be almost impossible, and that's why they are going to try to buy enough time to get the free syrian army that they are going to train in saudi arabia really to -- to step up to the plate. >> how important -- how significant would you say it is, the fact that saudi arabia whom you mentioned have been involved. they are involved in the latest round of air strikes in syria in particular? >> i think that's very significant given the saudi's place obviously in the muslim world. the fact that they are willing to work against isil and not go after assad, who they have been trying to, you know, displace for a number of years. so i think it's very, very very significant that they are part of it, regardless of how big of part they play, i think psychologically it sends the right message to the muslim and
arab world. >> it sounds like everybody is designed to the fact that kobani and northern syria right on the border with turkey will fall to isil forces at some point. they are prepared, it sounds to sacrifice kobani. how much of an additional complication is the fact that turkey has its own conflict with its own kurdish population? how does that muddy the water still further? >> oh, it does. there's no doubt about it. because the turk's main objective is to get rid of assad, and prevent the pkk, which is the kurdish group that has been branded as a terrorist from getting more fighters which they might if the kurds are able to stay in kobani. >> thank you very much indeeds. nice to talk to you. now the u.s. secretary of state john kerry is due to meet his friend and russian counter
part in paris. mr. kerry met the french foreign minister in paris on monday ahead of the high-level talks. russia's foreign minister sergei lavrov is expected to talk about the crisis in iraq and syria with the pair of them. so an interesting dynamic. let's hear more from our correspondent who is there monitoring these talks. what are we expecting from these three senior international diplomats? >> reporter: well, john kerry arrived here last night and he did hold a meeting with his french counterpart. now as we understand it, the meeting with sergei lavrov should be underway, but ever since he arrived here, john kerry and his team have been very tight lipped, i would say. we did hear from the french side. he had been calling for the
coalition to be more robust, and france has indicated that it did not disagree with the turkish idea of creating a buffer zone between southern turkey and northern syria to really receive all of these displaced people. we know the u.s. has been very cautious about that idea, so probably that's one of the conversations they would be happening. and hollande has been calling on more weapons to be given to the more moderate syrian opposition so they could counter the isil fighters on the ground. so that would be another conversation. when you comes to sergei lavrov you have two situations going on there. there was a ceasefire signed early september regarding
ukraine, but that's fire is wobbly at best. so these two conversations go in tandem, i would say. but we'll have to wait and see. we have been told there will be a press conference later. >> all right. thank you very much. the u.s.-lead coalition is continuing its air attacks on isil positions in northern and eastern syria. [ explosion ] this is the scene in kobani, the kurdish town in northern syria, which is a stone's throw from the turkish border. the back and forth of gains and losses by kurdish forces goes on. live now to our correspondent who is monitoring the situation there at the border is stephanie decker. you are on the turkish side of the border, stephanie. what can you tell us about the situation now with regard to kobani?
>> reporter: well, i think the main thing that happened in kobani today was an intensity in air strikes that we saw. there have been air strikes over the last week, but they had at least 12 we have been told. we're hearing from the kurdish fighters that they made some headway pushing isil 3 kilometers further away to the west. but there are battles to the east, south, and an assault that isil is carrying out on the border gate. so this seems to be a key target, the gate with turkey, if they controlled that it would prevent kurdish fighters from being treated in hospitals. it hasn't happened yet, but there was intensive shelling in that area. but on the ground no real movement inside the town from either side. >> and let's talk a little bit now about turkish action against the pkk, the kurdistan worker's
party. that has been confirmed and does signify the end of the peace process that turkey had undertaken just over a year ago. >> reporter: i don't think we can say it's the end of the peace process as yet. i think we can see it as a message from turkey to the pkk, because we have heard different messages coming from the pkk leadership. he said the ceasefire is over, pkk troops are again in turkey, and it really does have a significance to kobani. kobani has become a symbol for the kurds. but we have to say the leader of the pkk jailed here in turkey is expected to give a statement tomorrow from his prison cell. his narrative over the past week has been one of calm. so we'll have to see how this plays out. i think turkey certainly doesn't want to see a kurdish uprising
here in turkey. kurds have come to watch from across turkey, and many kurds have come from germany to observe it. so there's a real commitment by the kurds. they say if kobani falls there will be a huge a backlash in turkey. and nobody wants to see that. so we'll see what message we receive tomorrow. well, who are the pkk, the kurdistan workers party. they have confirmed that its southeastern positions have been hit by turkish war a planes. this is the first significant attack against the pkk since the peace process started two years ago. they fought against the turkish government for around 30 years. it wants more autonomy for the kurdish minority within turkey's borders. but in early 2013 a ceasefire was declared and the pkk
withdrew its fighter s to the kurdistan region of northern iraq. bernard smith has the latest. >> reporter: the p kk has confirmed it was on the receiving end of air strikes from the turkish military. it says two bases were attacked although no one was killed. the turkish military says those attacks were in retaliation for pkk attacks on a turkish border post along the iraq, syria border. the back story to this is the acting leader of the pkk said a few days ago that the peace process with turkey is effectively over. he blamed that on turkish military build up along the border, and the heavy handing of protesters across turkey last week, in which more than 31 people were killed. in response the acting heard of
the pkk sent military units back into turkey. and it seems to be one of those units that were responsible for this attack on the iraqi turkey border, and that prompted the turkish military to launch its retaller to attacks. there is a lot more to come on this news hour, including -- i'm in columbia where a community has found a new strategy to try to combat the violence against them. the movie industry in mumbi has struggled to host this year's film festival. and we'll have details in sport coming up later. ♪ now in yemen houthi rebels
have taking over control of a key city. the city is yemen's second largest port. whoever holds it controls trade in the red sea through to the suez canal, most is in oil and gas, and of course worth billions of dollars. the area gives the rebels yemen's biggest oil refinery as well. the houthi rebels have been fighting for more control in the north. and hold control of most of the capitol. so this further strengthens their position in the north, and undermines the peace talks. it's seen as the houthi rebel push possibly to take control of yemen. is that in fact the case?
what is the houthi strategy. yesterday we heard they approved the nominee for the position of prime minister, so what is going on? >> since they formed the group in the '90s, they would never spell out the plans for the future. they talk in general terms of we have didn't discriminated against and we want justice. but said you see they are trying to create a sort of power government. they have moved west and south. they control huge area in the north. this is definitely going to give them more leverage in the future. >> so it was thought negotiations have come to a hult, because they signed up, reluctantly it would appear, to a deal that was brokered by the united nations, and as i said before, they agreed, finally, to
the nomination of prime minister. so is that off of the table now? >> absolutely. you are talking about a group that is determined not only to play a significant political role in the future, but to lead at least northern yemen. if you look at the tap of the country, most of the area is under their control. the president is besieged in the palace. he has no say. it's the military that calls the final shots in the north. and i guess we have to refer to the fact that the saudi foreign minister 24 hours ago made direct reference to outside interference f. he named iran constantly. the side bar of outside interference recurs. now saudi has weighed in naming iran. that is certainly not going to help the region is it? this >> it is definitely going to
create more instability. saudi arabia labeled the houthis as a terrorist organization, and has accused iran of providing cash and weapons. sunnis at the same time are very skeptical. thousands of sunnis are gathering to denounce the houthis and at the same time to call from the south to break away from the north. >> we're going to be talking a lot more about this in the days to come. thank you very much indeed. let's change subjects now to ebola which is spreading and becoming more lethal. the death rate from the current outbreak that is ravaging west africa has risen to 70%. until now 50% died. more health workers are inevitably getting the disease. doctors without borders are reporting that nine of its staff
have died. the united kingdom is screening passengers arriving at the airport. the checks are mainly on people traveling from liberia, sierra leone, and guinea, which of course is where the outbreak is centered. and in germany a u.n. doctor has died from a virus. the 56 year old had been in social isolation in a unit ever since sunday when he became infected whilst working in liberia. okay. let's go live to our correspondent in germany in berlin, nike spicer. so we have seen ripples of fear spreading ash the world. it started off in spain, now we have seen this case in germany. >> you are absolutely right martine. the doctor died after hospital officials did everything they
could possibly go, they said, today, and this was a specialized unit of the hospital devoted to infectious and tropical diseases, where they have secure rooms which are vacuum sealed. none of the air can get out, where the people are highly trained, where all kinds of diseases have been dealt with in the path. however, they were unable to save this sudanese doctor who has given his life in his quest to save the people of liberia. he is not the only person that germany has received from africa stricken with ebola. a uganda doctor is still getting treatment from frankfort, and another doctor has been treated before being released. >> is there any indication that germany is preparing to take more stringent measures like they have in the u.k. and the screening now at heathrow?
>> well, the ripple of fear has certainly reached the german population, and the government was mindful earlier in the week to spell out what it is doing. it says there is a network of hospitals specialized in treating infectious and tropical diseases. there are four airports that have special procedures in place so planes can be rerouted should any passenger show any sign of ebola. they will land at the airport and put in specialized care. there are 50 beds as well on stand by in various hospitals across the country, precisely for the spread of ebola, and that's what the german government has said it has done so far, but it said it is ready to do even more should there be a need. >> nike spicer in berlin. thank you very much. still to come on the news hour -- >> i'm lawrence lee in dublin on
budget day where the government is claiming the fastest economic growth in the whole of the euro zone. plus love above the law, we're in indonesia where many are calling for interfaith marriages to be made legal. and another blow for germany ahead of the qualifier against the republic of ireland. farah will have all of the details coming up in sport.