russia launches air strikes on syria from its fleet in the caspian sea. ♪ i'm lauren taylor this is al jazeera, live from london. also coming up. flashes in raw mall la, as students fight with israeli forces. trade unions across south africa hold rallies calling for a boost to the minimum wage. and we investigate our coral reefs are flourishing in the polluted waters of hong kong harbor.
♪ hello there have been major developments in the war in syria with russia launching warship strikes from its fleet in the caspian sea. 26 cruise missiles were fired from four warships. it says the targets were positions held by the islamic state of iraq and the levant. russia says the operation destroyed all 11 targets and no civilians were killed or injured. now backed by russian air strikes, syrian troops have launched a major ground offensive, but not against isil, rebel group in hama, and idlib were the target. russian sources say the missiles traveled 1400 kill meters over what is described as unpopulated areas before hitting their targets in syria. in rome the u.s. defense
secretary said russia was making a mistake in its campaign in syria. >> i said before that we believe russia has the wrong strategy. they continue to hit targets that are not isil. we believe this is a fundamental mistake. despite what the russians say, we have got agreed to cooperate with russia so long as they continue to pursue a mistaken strategy and hit these targets. >> let's go live now to moscow to peter sharp. it looks like another escalation in the russian operations in syria. >> reporter: that's right. they have opened a second front with the launch this morning of these 26 cruise missiles that as you say hit 26 missiles hit 11 targets. interesting to see that these
pictures were put on domestic television almost immediately. russia wants to let the people see that. it's once again an indication of russia's resurgence and trying to convince the people that it is now becoming a world player. what we got earlier was russia had to basically talk to iraq and iran to get permission to overfly their areas. they plotted the routes of the missiles carefully to avoid any nato country members air space. that meant skirting turkey. it begs the question why would you launch missiles from 1200 kilometers away on isil targets when you have your own fight ore bomber force inside syria, which is carrying out daily strikes on isil. but it is a sobering reminder to the west of russia's military
reach in this conflict. >> what about the worry -- is there any kind of worry on a domestic front there about russia being sucked further into a conflict with a potential downside that we don't know about yet? >> well, there is. there is concern. people here have long memories. they remember the ten-year invasion of afghanistan and what that caused. it brought about the fall of the soviet empire. but they are adamant -- the government is adamant that although they are pushing in planes, aircraft, they have no intention of putting russian combat boots on the ground. they have put in two battalions of engineers, and marines into the air base and the naval port, that's about 1800 men, but they recount regularly that they are not planning a full
russian-force involved in the fighting. >> peter sharp live in moscow for us there. thank you. witnesses on the ground in syria, say russian air strikes have detroyed the weapons depot of u.s. trained troops. >> reporter: a new phase in russia's military intervention in syria. moscow has been targeting the opposition from the air. now that air power is being used to support a syrian army counter offensive on the ground. areas are coming under fire. this battle is for control of an important corner in western syria, strategically situated along the main highway between the cities of damascus and aleppo, and it seems the government had informed the residents of the planned assault. >> translator: after the syrian regime threatened to invade the town, the families fled from their homes, and now this town is empty of civilians and only
rebels remain. >> reporter: people started fleeing on tuesday. tens of thousands live in the town, it is unclear how many of them already left. but the rebel factions in this region are promising to fight back. >> translator: we will defend our land. we will not allow the murderous assad army or the russian and iranian occupiers to enter. we promise we will burn them. >> reporter: russian air strikes have been weaken the opposition in front line areas. they stopped the rebel advances in this region, and now they are helping the army recapture territory. >> reporter: the immediate objective of russia's intervention in the conflict is becoming clear, to change the balance of power on the ground. zana hoda, al jazeera, beirut. russian strikes on syria could be the first time that the country's navy has fired its new
crews missile system in conflict. they have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers. they can be fired from ships and submarines and are reported able to carry nuclear as well as conventional war heads. they can fly at supersonic speeds atless than 15 meeters above the ground. joining us live from washington, d.c. is michael coffman, a russian military an cyst. thanks for being with us. why would russia be using these missiles at this point? >> yeah, honestly i think the russians are using this particular type of missile partly to test the capability in a real combat scenario, but also to demonstrate that just like the west, russia has long-range precision, true strike ability and demonstrate that compared to other powers it has very comparable technical capabilities to that of let's
say the united states but maybe in a more limited fashion. >> how accurate are they? do you need to make them accurate -- people on the ground sort of operators or tell us about the systems and how they acquire their targets. >> okay. these miss siel -- missiles are very accurate. this is the ground attack version of an anti ship missile. it is part of a whole family of missiles. it is probably 2500, 2600 kilometers in range. they are very accurate, within a couple of meters of the target. how do they target it? you have to preselect the target and know the gps coordinates, and once they have that, the missile can go right from the ship to the target.
>> president putin has confirmed that the tactic is in coordination with the syrian ground troops. how much of this is -- is necessary to what the ground troops are doing? >> oh, it's not at all necessary. i think one it's a demonstration of capability. two it's an actual testing of this ability. although they have tested this missile before. but the russian navy hasn't higher inned live missiles in war for decades. so i think it's an opportunity to see if they can fire in a combat situation. but it's an unnecessary move. >> and you mentioned that they are supposed to be very accurate. is there any risk they could land in the wrong place and inflame tensions even more?
>> part of the challenge is, yeah, despite russian reports it will always take a few days to find out what they actually hit, but these missiles, you can only use them really against large targets. they are going after buildings, infrastructure. this is fairly comparable to the u.s. tomahawk cruise missile. there's always the chance of hitting the wrong target, but we don't know for days what the strikes were. >> there are respondents that russia has sent jamming equipment to syria. can you tell how significant that is if they have that in place in syria? >> that's more for russian defense. that system can jam aircraft, but i suspect what it is really there for is to jam drones.
as you know, coalition doesn't just fly aircraft over syria, it also flies quite a few drones. it's partly for russian defense and partly to show they have the electronic warfare capability in place, and also to jam coalition drones, and to jam coalition aircraft if need be. >> michael coffman thank you very much indeed for your analysis of the situation. thank you. ♪ now tensions remain high between israelis and palestinians with three reported stabbings in the last few hours and an increase in violence across israel and the occupied west bank. this was the scene in ramallah on wednesday where students fought with israeli forces. one man was killed and several others were injured. abbas has insisted that palestinians are not seeking
confrontation with israel. mike hannah joins us by the phone from jerusalem. what can you tell us about the latest incident. >> reporter: people say this occurred just outside israel. reportedly a man stabbed an israeli. he was apprehended. the israeli is moderately wounded according to police. so once again, seemingly minor incident in terms of the wider scale of things. however, as you mentioned this was the third stabbing attack in the course of the day. there was one in the city of jerusalem early on in the morning, then an attack at [ inaudible ], and this now, the third. perhaps reflective of the mood within the country and the area as a whole. certainly the tensions are still running high, although there has been a slight lifting of tension
in and around the old city with the lifting of the stringent restrictions that have been put in place by the israelis during the jewish holiday. >> and what other kind of measures are being taken to try to calm the situation? >> reporter: well, the israeli security say there was a meeting held overnight with palestinian official. the israeli military say the meeting was held in a way to find out the moves that could be taken to calm the situation across the occupied west bank. importantly too, the israeli army chief in the occupied west bank has given an interview, in which he says israel is not interested in an escalation of violence. and then he adds on that israel is not intending to change the status quo of what he calls the temple mount, the al aqsa mosque
compound. now this is significant the most senior israeli army official giving an interview to the palestinian news agency, clearly it's an attempt to restore some order on the ground. >> mike hannah thank you very much indeed. let's get clear on the clashes across the occupied west bank which have seen five palestinians killed since the beginning of the month. four israelis have also died. hoda abdel hamid has more. >> reporter: there were clashes in several areas around the west bank, jerricho, bethlehem, hebron, and here in ramallah where students called for a day of rage. the clashes lasted for several hours with israeli forces using once again live ammunition to
push back the protesters. this has been going on for several days and there's one figure that really stands out at this stage, and that's the number of wounded. according to both the red crescent and the palestinian health ministry, since october 3rd, 1,642 palestinians were wounded. among them you have about 260 that were hit by live ammunition, and about 650 that were wounded because of rubber-coated steel bullets. that gives you an idea of the amount of force israeli soldiers have been using to push back these protesters, and to confront them. now that doesn't mean that the clashes will stop. actually each time there is more -- there is a new injured, each time that someone dies, it gives -- it really increases the resolve and the determination of these youth, many of them will tell you everything else fades,
negotiations are not happening. there is no political way ahead that we can see and we can trust, so the only thing we can do at this stage is to continue to keep up the pressure, at least to make our voices heard and to make everyone understand that we will not stay quiet until we get what we want. now the rest of the population does agree with the message of these youth, but also is not -- is wondering what is the step ahead. people here have been going through already a first and second in ta fada. many will tell you and then what? if we don't have a clear goal, then more people will die, there will be more death and destruction, and we won't get much. so certainly a lot of people here are frustrated and wonder what lays ahead, but none seem
very positive at the moment. still ahead on the program, the latest from afghanistan where government forces are making gains against the taliban. and a look at the growing market of nuclear materials as police and the fbi announce that they foiled multiple attempts to sell ingredients needed to make a dirty bomb. ♪
in syria. moscow has also bolstered its presence on the ground in syria, as it helps government forces launch an offensive against rebel groups. there is height owned tension in israel following reports of a number of stabbings. a palestinian attacker stabbed an israeli man to death outside of a mall? one incident. the afghanistan government counter offensive to recapture the city of kunduz continues. the government counter offensive was launched on thursday. afghan troops have now regained control of the main square. our correspondent has this update from kunduz. >> reporter: the city is now quiet, but the two sides are not far from each other. taliban and afghanistan government forces are a few hundred meters from each other, taking position. civilians are getting out of their home to do some shopping.
some shops are open. they were suffering for testimony ten days with no food, no water. they were stuck in their homes, no electricity. some are leaving the area. we talked with a couple of residence of the city. they are telling us that they don't have faith of afghanistan security forces anymore that the area are going to be cleared soon from taliban. they believe the fighting is going to continue for sometime now. we talked with afghanistan security forces and asked them why they are going to slow? we asked them if there is lack of capability? the afghanistan security officials are telling us, one, they have lack of leadership, lack of coordination, among the 7,000 forces here, then they are saying secondly, that taliban are hiding in the residential
area. if afghanistan security forces are giving it a hard push, it might cause heavy civilian casualty. police in moldova are working alongside u.s. intelligence services. they have revealed they are stopped multiple attempts to sell nuclear materials to the middle east. emma hayward has more. >> reporter: it was no ordinary target, an armed moldova police were taking no chances as they moved in to apprehend a man alleged to be involved in a nuclear smuggling network, and this is what they had been looking for. sample for potential use in a dirty bomb. one of the suspected middleman wanted the stash sold to isil.
it's a case which has exposed moldova has a hub in the trade of nuclear materials. operating illegally in an impoverished part of eastern europe. in the past five years moldovan police together with the u.s. fbi have stopped four attempts by russian-linked gangs to sell nuclear material. undercover police officers posing as gangsters reached out to the network's middleman. and when they raided the home of a former kgb informant they found blueprints on how to build a dirty bomb. >> they can make one of those dirty bombs, you know? have you heard of such of thing. the level of radiation would be high, and spread material over this big of territory. >> reporter: but it was all part of a sting. he believed when he went to pick up hundreds of thousands of dollars it has come from a
genuine buyer. but the police were about to pans. some of those allegedly involved have faced justice, but the sentences have been short, and the danger posed by many others in this murky and dangerous world, still exists. emma hayward. al jazeera. a series of suicide attacks in nigeria's northeast has killed at least 18 people. it happened during three separate bombings on wednesday. eight others have been injured in the attacks. many full-time workers in south africa struggle to make enough money to live on. now people are taking to the streets to demand a national minimum wage to help the country overcome poverty. tania pa tania page -- reports. >> reporter: these protesters say a national minimum wage would mean dignity for all workers. >> let us on the streets are
saying enough is enough. we demand immediate implementation of the national minimum wage as a springboard to ensure that every worker can sleep with something in his or her stomach. >> reporter: a recent study revealed there are 5.5 million working poor in south africa. they are employed full-time yet still can't afford to cover all of their family's needs. people like tina. she works more than 35 hours a week as a cleaner, but her pay is $88 a month. he manages to put some of her salary into a community savings scheme. her second biggest monthly cost is food for her and her daughter, $30. lek dristy, gas, and rent soak up the remaining money. >> working for that money it's better than sitting at home, how am i going to survive because i
have a child? at the end of the day this child will be looking at my face like she wants food. >> reporter: there is already a set minimum wage, but they are rarely enforced. instead of a national minimum wage the employer's associate says government leaders should make it easier for businesses to grow and create more jobs. >> the biggest drive of poverty is unemployment. >> reporter: one in four south africans are unemployed so many are grateful just to have a job, but these protesters say the lowest-paid workers are being exploited. and an enforced minimum wage would lift millions out of poverty. tania page, al jazeera,
johannesberg. there has been a surprising find in the waters of hong kong. in an area where scientists thought corals would struggle to survive, reefs are thriving. >> reporter: cranes and construction sites circle hong kong's harbor front. land is slowly devouring these waters as the city expands its footprint. these scientists are keeping a close watch on what is happening on land, but an even closer watch on what is going on beneath the water, and what might be happening to the coral. >> we have pollution that derives from development particularly from sewage. heavy metal contamination. and sedimentation that results from reclamation activities. all of these things affect coral in a very negative way. david baker is leading this international research team. the group is diving at key spots
around the harbor, logging coral species and how they are faring in the face of these tough conditions. and no one was expecting this. >> reporter: i am actually pretty surprised because we have the numbers of the quarter quality, nutrient, concentration, there shouldn't be any coral living in hong kong. >> reporter: the divers have found coral not just alive, but thriving. >> it's remarkable. we can dive in places that you think where no coral could survive. polluted harbors, marinas, areas close to wastewater discharges, and you still have find corals or coral relatives. >> reporter: the team has recorded more than 80 different species of hard coral. that's more than has been identified in the entire caribbean sea. >> it was a very clear day in
hong kong. and we saw a diversity of corals and some schools of fishes today. it was a pretty nice day today. >> reporter: this region is feeling the impacts of climate change and development, but the stronger types of coral species here are holding on, despite the unrelenting conditions, and scientists are trying to establish how they survive. they collect fragments of coraa to monitor and cultivate. >> eventually our goal is to put them back into the sites they came from. so we could make a hypothesis that the corals here have been selected for only the strongest, only the strongest survive, so these could be supercorals that may hold some secrets for coral survival globally in the future.
>> reporter: it's an underwater mystery offering a glimmer of hope for a habitat under threat. plenty more stories for you any time on our website, the address is aljazeera.com. and that's updated 24 hours a day. ♪ demanding an investigation, doctors without borders wants answers as to why their hospital was hit in an air strike. what the defense secretary is promising in the probe. another round of strikes against isil, russia steps up attacks as syrian ground forces move in. plus it is not over yet. water continues to rise in south carolina, crews there, working around the clock to stop dams from breaking. ♪