only on al jazeera america. the iraqi defense ministry says its forces have entered parts of tikrit pushing back isil forces. ♪ you are watching al jazeera, i'm david foster live from london. also coming up in the next 30 minutes . . . dozens are arrest interested in myanmar as students take to the streets, demanding more rights and academic freedom. yemen's former president tells his sucks -- successor to go into exile.
ivory coast former first lady is being sentenced to 20 years in jail for her role in post election violence. also a helicopter collision in argentina leaves ten dead among them top french athletes. ♪ for the first time in months the iraqi army is now inside parts of tikrit continuing what is a major offensive to recapture the town from isil the islamic state of iraq and the levant. a statement from iraq's defense ministry says that iraqi forces have surrounded tikrit and are now preparing to advance. it is on the main road to baghdad, and iraq's sunni -- heartland. the government are hoping it could persuade sunnis in other places to rise up against isil. they have already retaken a town
30 kilometers away from tikrit and two other villages. more soldiers are standing by further out. if they take tikrit they will then push further north to mosul, the biggest city under isil's control. we are joining our correspondent jane arrhett on the phone now. what do you know about what is happening in and around tikrit. >> reporter: residents of tikrit including officials here say indeed iraqi forces backed by shia militias have entered the city and are holding parts of the city. it is saddam hussein's former hometown. residents there say that the parts of the city have been rigged with explosives which is part of the reason it has been such tough going. but they are also reporting that one of the key bridges into the
city has been blown up. that hasn't yet been confirmed. they say isil fighters using explosives have detonated one of those bridges, and that has been happening along that very tough route to the city. >> i was mentioning this was perhaps a prelude to try to recapture mosul. in the comparison between the two, is there much to put them alongside each other? >> reporter: well, tikrit is kind of a test. and it will have implications for how well or badly mosul goes. but no one is under illusion that mosul will be as easy as tikrit. mosul is the isil strong hold. but apart from that it's quite
a diverse population. tikrit has a population that is predominantly sunni, and that's part of the dynamic there. residents are afraid not really of what happens if the iraqi army retakes the city it's what happens later. who will be able to keep control? will it be the shia militias? those are the questions that people will be asking about mosul. mosul appears to be a larger set of problems but similar to those faced in tikrit. david? >> thank you very much indeed jane. we'll continue looking at this story with our senior political analyst joining us me live from doha. it was saddam hussein's hometown, but in the scheme of things were this battle to retake it from isil to succeed, what is the greater significant?
>> well you know, this is just the beginning. it is significant. it is symbolically important. it means there is a push now that has started that the central government in baghdad backed by iran is taking charge but as i said this is the beginning, but don't expect by the same breath that isil fighters are going to become prisoners of war. these people are about to die fighting those kinds of battles, and that means this is going to be quite costly for tikrit and whatever other part of the sunni areas that's going to be taking on by the iraqi army. this is the beginning. it is symbolic but really the beginning of a long long road that is going to be quite bitter and painful. >> and one of the reasons that may be the case if i can put this forward is because of the sectarian divisions that fighting this battle in this
particular place could bring about in that part of iraq. >> that's right. and the big question -- and i'll put it for you in few words. the biggest question of all, are these forces are going to be seen by the locals as liberators, or invaders because the hostility between the sunni areas like tikrit and mosul, against the shiite control center government and the shiite militias backed by iran is so severe in the last 12 years and even more that i think we're going to see probably revenge killing and the kind of violence that we have been warning against for many years now, and i think now the time has come and the cost in terms of sectarian division is going to be great. and this is the thing that -- that the head of the joint chiefs of staff, general dempsey, has warned against.
he said that the kind of sectarianism that we're seeing the kind of iran interference that we're seeing might lead to the collapse of the coalition against isil in the long term. >> we have seen now -- as you have said members of isil are highly unlikely to allow themselves to be taken prisoner but those that don't die may be able to melt away into other parts of iraq. how difficult is this going to be to prevent this from becoming like squeezing a balloon? yeah, you have your hand on the middle, but everything else has gone to the other end. >> they are blowing up bridges. so you can tell they are going to mount a serious fight. i think in some ways they are looking for this kind of fight. they want a showdown. they want to show that they will die for their cause.
there is something -- not exactly -- you know guerrilla warfare, not exactly al-qaeda type, but a new phenomenon we have seen where isil tries to take control of areas, manage those areas, want to die taking control of them. so as i said we will see what happens in tikrit and it will be a less son for all of us in terms of what it means for the rest of iraq. i'm not optimistic about what this is going to mean. because as i said even if, you know, the central government and the militias take over these areas, that is going to be another fight, because they will be seen more as invaders than liberators. >> thank you very much indeed. we'll leave it there for now. elsewhere in iraq the army is gaining ground against isil on the outskirts of fallujah. it has retaken a town 40
kilometers west of baghdad. and kurdish peshmerga forces have blown up a truck they say was full of isil fighters. they say it was a suicide on the part of isil. a deadly blast thought to have been launched by boko haram fighters has hit nigeria's city of midugari. at least 12 are thought to have been killed. the town has been attacked several times recently by boko haram fighters. hundreds of police have fought with student protesters in myanmar. the students demanding greeting freedoms when security forces moves in with batons.
florence loui reports. >> reporter: a tense standoff between protesters and police turns into a confrontation. for more than a week the protesters have been camping in a town 3 hour's drive north of yangon. they are unhappy with the newly elected education law which they say restricts education freedom and bans them from forming a union. on tuesday local officials said they would allow the students to march. but when the activistings found out they wouldn't be able to hold banners or chant slogans, they became angry. they tried to breach police lines. it doesn't take long for the situation to descend into violence. hundreds of police charge at the
protesters striking and injuring them. protesters are dragged into police trucks and student leaders are among those arrested. police also attack a vehicle that was being used by the demonstrators. police have responded to some of the past week's protests. some held in solidarity with the students with force. last week men in plain clothes attacked protesters in yangon. several were arrested. officials admitted using a vigilante force which is aloud under myanmar law. but it is seen as a tactic used by the government to break up peaceful protests. tuesday's crackdown comes as the u.n. said the country is sliding back towards conflict because the government has backtracked on its pledge to uphold human rights and has many questioning whether the transition from
military to civilian rule is genuine? the former president of yemen has accused his successor of stealing and destroying the country. he says president hadi who has now left the capitol of sana'a and is in the southern city of aden should leave yemen and go into exile. our correspondent sent us this update from aiden. >> reporter: the former president is very clearly aiming for a strong comeback to the political scene, probably he doesn't want to be president again, but he has his son. we have seen thousands rallying inside sana'a asking for his son to run for president in the next elections in yemen. we have seen also loyalists to saleh everywhere around the country showing their presence and power. one of them was here in aden a
general who refused orders to leave his post. saleh has called on hadi to leave the country. he says he destroyed the country. he compared the situation to 1994 when a civil war took place for yemen because the south decided to secede. and listen now to some of the justificationings saleh expressed. >> translator: the people cannot afford to either drink. you have gubled up their dues. suspended their salaries. brought their livelihood to a stand still. investment to a halt and tourism too. is this what you call the modern civil state? where universities faculties and schools are ruined. we ruined them all, and claim it to be a modern civil state. that's their model. they are liars. liars. ivory coast former first lady has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for her role in
post-election violence. simon gbagbo was given double the sentence the pros -- prosecutors asked for. >> reporter: she was one first lady of ivory coast, but in this trial she was described as having undermined state security. prosecutors argue when her husband lost the presidential election of 2010, she organized armed gangs after he rejected the result. in the violence that followed more than 3,000 people were killed. she and her husband were arrested in 2011 by french and u.n. peace-keeping troops. her husband is now awaiting trial at the international criminal court in the hague, accused of crimes against humanity. at the court on tuesday, his wife simon was found guilty.
the verdict was welcomed by groups representing the victims. [ applause ] >> >> translator: we are really satisfied that this trial took place. it's a victory over impunity, over promotion of those who committed crimes random execution and over forced disappearances. >> reporter: but mrs. gbagbo called the judgment political. >> translator: given the court's decision and the sentencing, and given the absence of fact and proof against her, this is nothing more than purely political decision to keep her out of the political game. >> reporter: ivory coast is due to hold a presidential election later this year. with simone gbagbo now contemplating a 20-year prison sentence, her involvement may be
limited. footage as emerged at the moment the two helicopters crashed in argentina, killing ten passengers. among them three french sports stars. the amateur pictures were aired on argentinian tv. >> reporter: this is all that remains of the helicopters. on board was a group of leading sports men and women. part of a tv show called "dropped." among the dead was the olympic swimmer camille muffat. she won gold in the 400 meter free style in the london games. >> translator: you don't really take it in.
it's true i won my 400 meter title, then the next day the president came to visit me. it is another dimension. >> reporter: another of the victims was the celebrated yachts woman, florence arthaud. she became the first woman to sail alone across the atlantic. also on board was the boxer alexis vastine. he too won a medal in the olympics. the area where the helicopters crashed is was remote. it was reported the weather conditions were good at the time. the tv program the athletes were filming in argentina, was inspired by a swedish reality show that flies contestants into remote areas and then leaves them to fend for themselves. reaction in france to the deaths has been switch. the channel tf 1 has expressed
its great sadness and postponed the show. the rest of the crew will return to france. >> in a statement the president said the sudden death of his fellow french nationals was a cause of immense sadness. coming up here on al jazeera, we have britain's serious warning to russia as relations between the two worsen. ♪ a sun-powered revolution how the humble tuk-tuk is becoming a better friend of the environment. ♪
time in the program to run through the global top stories this hour. iraqi forces said they have entered the outskirts of the city of tikrit as they prepare an offensive to recapture it from isil. dozens have been hurt many more arrested after student protesters fought with riot police in myanmar. and yemen's former leader saleh, has called on his successor to go into exile. president hadi fled to aden after the capitol was seized by houthi rebels. algeria is hosting the latest round of talks to try to end the crisis in libya. they are in the capitol algiers. while representatives of the
rival parliaments met to try to form a deal. the administrations continue to make their own different decisions in the meantime. the government in tobruk has sworn in his army chief. 2 million libyans have fled over the border into the safety of what they believe to be the security of tunisia. once again, though many finding it difficult to make a living. >> reporter: in a hotel in tunisia, mohammed remembers life in libya. his house in the capitol tripoli was raided by fighters. he's from a town in the west. >> translator: it is very hard and it hurts.
it spent 30 years building my life, and in a split second it was lost. i have to start from scratch all over again. >> reporter: this is why libyans are leaving. this is the aftermath of an air strike in tripoli. the conflict is being fought in the air and on any ground. hundreds of people have been killed since the beginning of the year. tunisia offers libyans safety but little more. there is no work, and many libyans live off of their savings. they can't buy property so they rent, which is pushing up the cost of living. >> if we don't give a hand for the libyans, yeah, where they will go? they don't have any choice. >> translator: the situation is libya scares me. it's dramatic and bloody. we aren't used to this as muslims and this terrifies everybody, because libya is on our border. >> reporter: tunisia's army is also worried.
it's deployed soldiers to the border area. tunisia recognizes both of libya's rival governments. it's trying to play a neutral role. tu knee sla says it will continue to welcome libyan testify gees but there are concerns that violence could spill over into tunisia with fighters and weapons ending up here. returning is not an option for people like this man. a former television presenter in tripoli, his life was threatened. he had to leave his family and fiance behind. >> you have to be with one side. if you be impartial, or be agonist, or criticize, you will be accused and targeted. so there is no freedom of expression in any part of lib ya now, unfortunately. >> reporter: he and other
libyans have signed up for media training courses in tunisia. they hope to find work in tunisia or europe. they have no idea when they can return to their homes. they feel helpless watching from afar as their country is torn apart. russia's aimed its participation at a 25-year-old treaty reducing the number of troops and arms in central europe. this is after a warning from britain that russia could once again pose a great security threat. britain's foreign secretary says british spy agencies announced stepping up their efforts to counter that threat. >> reporter: this is what the new cold war looks like from close up. pictures from the russian defense ministry eye to eye with a british royal air force yet. the raf took its own pictures
too. there have been several incidents just like this. it's a exact lir the sort of thing that britain cease as an out and out provocation. the government here now appears to have given up trying to gain favors with the russian leader. >> we are faced with a russian leader bent not on joining the international rule space system which keeps the peace between nations but on subverting it. president putin's actions illegally annexing crimea and using russian troops to destabilize eastern ukraine, fundamentally undermine the sovereignty of nations of eastern eastern europe. >> reporter: britain has been helping train soldiers in areas like estonia.
the cheerleaders of this speech will have been former colleagues here at the ministry of defense here in london. they are livid at the cuts to their budget which would reduce their spending to less than nato guidelines. they are also the biggest supporters of a controversial project which is emblematic of the cold war with the soviet union. the replacement for the trident missiles currently based in scotland will cost $150 million. many say britain can't afford it. but people at the foreign sectarian would hope that upgrading it will send a signal to moscow. the tuk-tuk is a cheap mode of transportation for millions. they can be very noisy, but a
non-profit group has come up with an idea of ending that. >> reporter: early morning, the coffee makers prepare their load. ready to dispense more than a fresh brew they also bare a message of hope while helping the environment. with a regular schedule the regular customers are already lining up by the time the vehicle is open for business. for one employee this offers her a real alternative employment to scavenging in rubbish dumps. >> translator: life is better. now i have regular hours, and we have more food to eat. >> reporter: as the run comes up, so this tuk-tuk comes into its own. the solar panel on its roof
recharging the batteries that will propel it to its next destination. able to do up to 100 kilometers on one full charge it is a welcome whiff of innovation in a city choking on its own exhaust. no pollution and no no noise, the electric difference means this vehicle at the moment is running completely silently. a silence you would be able to hear if it wasn't for the thousands of other vehicles it has to share the road with. with phnom penh's notoriously congested roads, getting more choked with motorbikes and tuk-tuks, this organization has a bigger message for the city. >> in phnom penh the traffic is increasing, it costs to the air quality, you know? it just creating the problems to the air, so we -- we want something that reduce the
pollution in the city you know? >> reporter: come the rainy season the gathering clouds may slow things down but until then this coffee service is full steam ahead. rob mcbride al jazeera, phnom penh. >> in the modern world it's aljazeera.com. endless violence in afghanistan. many tell me the daily reports of the attacks, and the daily killings have ceased to hold much meaning. but for those living in this land, torn apart by war, there's no more important of a time than now. after years of trying to drive back the taliban, most of the nato and u.s. troops are leaving, having reported here