afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be. >> in a dramatic shift of strategy, president obama says u.s. troops will stay in afghanistan to combat a resurgent taliban. ♪ good to have you with us. i'm david foster, you are watching al jazeera live from london. also in the next 30 minutes . . . the syrian army launches a major offense north of the city of homs. heads of states in brussels talking about the refugee
crisis, the e.u. has a plan, but needs turkey to agree. and why surviving snakebites may be more difficult in some parts of africa. ♪ so the u.s. president barack obama has just announced a major shift in policy in afghanistan, staying more troops will now stay on the ground there through 2017. mr. obama says afghan forces are doing relatively well, but they are not strong enough. there are currently 9,800 u.s. troops in afghanistan. most were to be withdrawn by the end of next year, this u.s. now expected to keep 5,500 troops in the country when mr. obama leaves office in 2017. military leaders have been
pushing for more u.s. support especially after taliban fighters captured kunduz city. obama saying the only way to withdrawal fully is through lasting peace. >> i do not support the idea of endless war, and i have repeatedly argued against marching into conflicts that do not serve our core security. given what is at stake in afghanistan and the opportunity for a stable and strong ally that can partner with us against the emergence of future threats, and the fact we have an international coalition, i'm firmly convinced that we should make this extra effort. >> patty culhane is live at the white house, this is pretty embarrassing. >> reporter: well, not if you listen to the president. he said he wasn't disappointed
by this announcement, obviously trying to spin this in the most positive light. remember he won two elections, and his biggest foreign policy promise was that he would end the wars in iraq and afghanistan. u.s. war planes are still in the skies over iraq, and now he has made this announce about afghanistan. he did say they expected setbacks, but i think it's important to point out, each time the president made announcements what the troop numbers would be, he didn't say maybe, he was extremely definitive. in this speech he did say the u.s. troops wouldn't be doing major combat. it's important to pay attention to the words. we do know u.s. troops did help take back the city of kunduz. so the president trying to put this in the most positive light, but there is no question about
it, when he came into the office he said there will be no troops when he left, and there now will be >> i'm imagine there would be political opponents who will make hay out of this, but also people who said, listen, we knew this was going to happen. >> reporter: uh-huh. right now it seems he is getting criticized from pretty much everybody. we heard from john mccain saying it is completely reckless to say you are going down to 5,500 troops, democrats are going to be key here. we're going to have wait and see what the presidential hopefuls have to say about this. hillary clinton is expected to speak any moment now. so her reaction is going to be key. but this will be unpopular with the american people. the longest war in the history of the united states. it started because of 9/11.
at the time almost overwhelming support. almost 90% of americans said they wanted the war in afghanistan. the latest poll says that 42% of the population think the war was a mistake in the first place. >> patty thank you for now. >> okay. >> patty culhane in washington. ♪ israel is continuing to expand its security operation in east jerusalem and the occupied west bank. so far 32 palestinians, and 7 israelis have lost their lives since the beginning of october. mike hanna reports now on how israel's security measures are having an impact on people's lives. >> reporter: intense security, police orders palestinians to lift their shirts, some instructed to remove their
shoes, but this group waving israeli flags passes through unchecked. the clamp down is related to the anxiety among jewish israelis. false alarms have sparked panic in a number of locations, and there have been several reports of israelis with dark complexions being attacked by fellow jews after they were mistaken as palestinians. >> we work together with the members of the public who have a large and wide understanding of the security issues involved, and are aware of the tense period we're in. there is definitely not panic. >> reporter: but even the police spokesman is wearing a stab vest. >> i have to protect myself. i could be targeted. >> reporter: in occupied east jerusalem a number of neighborhoods have been sealed off, and all residents having to
pass through police check points. this ads at least an hour to the commute for those needing to go to work or university. and the feeling is anger that so many are being made to pay for the actions of so few. this is a prominent community leader here. >> translator: netenyahu is putting pressure on the palestinian people and the people of jerusalem. this will create a bigger explosion. it won't calm things down. to calm things down you need a political decision, not a security one. >> reporter: the warning that this punishment of a people, the structured humiliation may threaten the very security israel contends it is designed to enforce. over in west jerusalem we
see a media center set up with the israeli flags, and we're expecting the israeli prime minister, benjamin netenyahu, any moment now to come to address the foreign press. we'll keep our eyes on that as will my colleague andrew simmons who is in west jerusalem joining us now. is it possible to see whether there has been a change -- a change in the security situation now that these new restrictions have been brought in? >> reporter: visibly you can see troops manning checking points all over occupied east jerusalem, but as you say, it's quiet, but quiet comes with a very cautious little, really. it's a disturbing lull. so many people, the more quiet you get, the more calm things seem to be, the more cynical and pessimistic people become,
thinking that something bigger might happen. because there is such a level of fear unknown before in a place that is used to violence, that has seen quite a lot over many years, but now there's a psychological that is very, very unusual. so no one is sure whether these measures will work. they are effectively putting a total of 400 prison guards to join the security forces, the head of prisons decided that only a short time ago. there are, in fact, an exact number of 300 military being deployed in jerusalem, that's occupied east jerusalem and the west. those soldiers will be deployed on sunday. they are already quite large number of in the occupied east of the city. and as far as the west bank goes, we're hearing from sources
that there were suggestions that it should be sealed off all together, but that was resisted by the military, the army said that wasn't a good idea, and it was in fact one of the most marathon-like sessions, that security cabinet, by lasted something in the region of six to seven hours before they reached the decisions for all of these security measures. so right now, in very measured terms, we're unsure of whether it will work, and so are the people of israel. palestinian and jews alike. >> andrew thank you very much indeed ahead of that expected address by the israeli prime minister to the foreign media. thank you. syrian army has launched its anticipated offensive in the northern homs countryside. the fighting is focusing on a highway which links the provinces of homs and hama. the government wants this route to help bring supplies up to the
north of the country. and it wants to secure a corridor between itself strong holds along the coast and the capitol damascus. zana hoda has more. >> reporter: the battle in northern homs countryside has begun. rebel-held towns are coming under fire. this is a coordinated assault between the syrian army on the ground and the russian air force. it is the second offensive of its kind since the military intervention of russia. its air force is -- providing support on the ground as they try to advance. but civilians are caught in the middle. >> translator: this is a civilian area. isil is not here. you russian dogs. the whole world should see this. >> reporter: activists are reporting fighters as well as civilians are being killed and injured. tens of thousands of people live there. many of them displaced from
fighting elsewhere in the country, and this corner of syria has been surrounded by the army for years, the only roads out lead to government-controlled territory. >> translator: people are afraid, people have started to leave the areas that are being hit, but they can't leave the countryside because the roads are blocked. >> reporter: the syrian military says the aim of the offensive is to end the presence of what it calls terrorists, and restore security and stability, recapturing the homs countryside would help the government secure territory linking its seat in damascus to the coast al -- al wiet heartland. >> translator: this is the capitol of the revolution, and we will fight until the end.
>> reporter: the opposition is also under attack on other fronts, the northern countryside and southern areas are battlegrounds, and there are reports of a major ground operation being planned around the northern city of aleppo. the homs offensive is linked to a broader military campaign that began two weeks ago when russia started air strikes targeting opposition-controlled areas in the west. the syrian government and its allies are on the offensive, and for now have stopped rebel advances in the area. this is one of the biggest military operations against the opposition in years, the immediate aim is to recapture territory and weaken the opposition. it's also about using force to bring about political concess n concessions. this is one of the other stories we're looking at. stay with us, in just a couple of minutes, a ceasefire signed
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♪ global headlines this hour, president obama has announced plans to keep u.s. troops in afghanistan beyond 2016, delaying plans to completely withdraw them from the country. there have been no new stabbing attacks in jerusalem as israel continues to expand its military presence across the city after weeks of unrest
between israelis and palestinians. > syrian army has launched on offense live against rebels. leaders from e.u. countries are having a meeting in brussels to try to come up with a solution to sort out the refugee crisis. many countries say they can't cope with all of the refugees, and the summit is focusing on working with countries outside of europe's borders to stem all of that, and turkey key here, the e.u. wants to make sure the refugees it is currently hosting stay exactly where they are. >> translator: without a doubt, turkey plays a vital role in this crisis, over 2 million people are seeking protection and it is taking the biggest share of refugees from syria. the majority who come to europe
travel via turkey. we will not be able to stem this flow of refugees without working with turkey. that means we must better support turkey in caring for the refugees. >> neave barker is at that summit. maybe a deal has been reached, and if it has, what are they giving turkey in return? >> reporter: well, it looks like some movement has been made, there are reports that the e.u. and turkey have reached an agreement. earlier in the week, on tuesday, the european commission proposed an e.u.-turkey plan, essentially to in a way bring down refugee numbers in total, passing through turkey, heading in the direction of the european union. in the anyone ashal plan they talked about in return for giving a billion euros in
support of turkey, asking in return that turkey increase the incentives for people to remain there. we gather now in the last half hour or so, that that figure has increased to around 3 billion euros, and the turks have been able to broker an easing of visa restrictions as well. that could mean up to 75 million turks will gain better and quicker and much easier access to travelling to the european union as a whole. as part of that original e.u.-turkey plan that was discussed earlier in the week, there was also the request that turkey introduces greater controls of its boarders on land and on sea, and also that it works much more closely with the european union on repatriating any failed asylum seekers. we're talking about largely economic migrants as opposed to
refugees. i think it's important to add early on the french had been very much against the idea of relaxing visa restrictions for turkey, but it seems under the current stresses the european union is under, this is now the only way that they can move significantly forward when it comes to reducing the number of people arriving in the european union. this has drawn a significant issue between countries in the e.u. between those who feel there is a moral obligation to help those people outside of the e.u., and those countries largely eastern and southern europe who feel that perhaps europe's doors should remain a little bit further closed. >> okay. neave barker thank you very much indeed for that. volkswagen has said it will recall 8.5 million cars in europe over that emissions cheating scandal. the announce was brought about
by germany's motoring watchdog which ordered checks on 2.4 million domestic cars fitted with the software that is designed to cheat emissions tests. baher mohamed who was released from an egyptian jail last month has been welcomed to the network's doha headquarters. [ applause ] >> he was pardoned in september by egypt's president along with fellow journalist, mohammed fahmy. peter greste who had been jailed with them had been deported in february. the three were originally sentenced to between seven and ten years. other al jazeera journalists who were sentenced in their absence weren't pardoned. al jazeera continues to demand
that all of its employees sentences be overturned. bahah called for press freedom everywhere. >> thank you so much, but i hope one day we'll be able to celebrate the freedom of every single journalist all over the world. we will continue. we will continue because we are not only jernallists but advocates of press freedom. myanmar's government has signed a ceasefire with rebels. however, less than half of the ethnic minority populations have signed up to it. >> reporter: the deal which has been years in the making was finally signed. what is being described as the nationwide ceasefire agreement was one of the top priorities of the president when he took office four years ago and 50
years of military rule came to an end. >> translator: today is an important historic day for myanmar. >> reporter: but it's a nationwide agreement in name only. eight armed ethnic groups signed the deal, but even others didn't. they included the independence army, which is fighting to maintain control of large parts of northern myanmar. there's also been fighting correctly -- recently in other areas. the president says the door remains open for all groups to sign the agreement in the future, so the suffering can end. >> translator: there have been armed conflicts in our country since we won independence. hundreds of thousands of people have suffered immensely from the fighting. >> reporter: political talks will now be focused around the desire for a federal system, to give the various states greater autonomy. there will also be talks on
putting monitors in conflict area areas. >> after election, one thing we will see is that can the construction tuks be amended ? if the constitution can be amended and [ inaudible ] more autonomy, and more [ inaudible ] of power for thet nick armed groups who decided not to join in the ceasefire [ inaudible ]. >> reporter: but there is still mistrust. wane haye, al jazeera, bangkok. medical emergencies are on the rise for snakebite victims in several african country, because the last batch of anti-venom expires next year.
>> reporter: this hospital in northeastern nigeria treats snakebite victims. this man traveled more than 100 kilometers to get here for specialized care. it may be run down, but at least he is being treated. we're interrupting that package from nigeria as you can see. this is west jerusalem, the press conference about to be given by the israeli prime minister, benjamin netenyahu. [ speaking jewish ]
>> yeah, just as soon as get an english translation, which we have been told to expect, we will be back with benjamin netenyahu, or at least we'll bring you some of what he said. i had a reference there to the palestinian president, but unfortunately we cannot bring it to you in english, so we will carry on. and let me tell you about orchids, for centuries they have been amongst the rarest most collectible of flowers, but entire species have almost disappeared because of the expansion of cities. one scheme in the u.s. is hoping to make them blomsome again in more places. >> reporter: at this school in miami, they are planting for the future. >> you are going to measure from where the root is coming out here to the base of where the leaf is coming out.
>> reporter: this school and dozens of others across the city are taking part in a scheme to reintroduce native orchids that were once common place. the idea is based on a similar project in singapore, and it aims to bring these blooms to miami's urban streets. >> this is the future, and we're losing habitat at an unprecedented rate, we need to find ways to be creative to maintain biodiversity. >> reporter: the million orchid project hopes to reestablish a healthy population of plants within five years, but the challenges are huge. a single orchid can produce a million seeds -- >> it is never that simple. the israeli prime minister now talking in english just as soon as we left him talking in hebrew, here he is. >> -- and spread in the palestinian social network and
to the rest of the world is to tell the truth. this is what we will do today, we expect our friends and anyone concerned with the facts and the truths, to look at these facts and not draw false symmetry between israeli citizens and those who would stab them and knife them to death. thank you. >> thank you prime minister. we're now going to do a brief presentation in english, and then you will have chances to ask questions at the end. the fact. we want to explain what the status quo is on the temple mount. as you can see, these are the numbers of people who visit the temple mount every year. just look at the numbers. muslims over 3.5 million. christians 200,000, jews 12,000. that is the fact. there is no change in the status quo. the temple mount is open to
muslim prayer only. i repeat, the temple mount is open to muslim prayer only. muslims pray there regularly. there's no change in the status quo. christians, jews, and others may not pray on the temple mount. they mavis it is at specific times only from sunday to thursday from 7 to 11:00 a.m. and not on muslim holidays. they do not enter the mosque. israeli scrupulously safeguards all sites in the city of jerusalem. and now i call on my colleague, who will present on palestinian incitement. >> the foremost agitator has been, unfortunately, palestinian president, and this is what he
said. incite to violence that kills. this is what he said. the israelis have no right to desecrate the mosque with their filthy feet. >> we'll bring you our version of what is being said, rather than stay with that, because we're coming to the engineer of this program. and we'll now do the headlines. ♪ ♪ troop withdrawal from afghanistan delayed a major policy reversal by president obama, as the taliban presents new security threats. a meeting of the minds, european leaders gathering in brussels. in