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tv   News  Al Jazeera  October 15, 2015 3:00pm-3:31pm EDT

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♪ afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be. >> in a dramatic shift of strategy president obama announces the u.s. troops will stay in afghanistan to combat a resurging taliban. ♪ hello, i'm marian and you are watching al jazeera live from london and also coming up, the syrian army launches a major offensive north of the strategic city of homs. leaders agree a multi-billion dollar deal with turkey to stem
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the flow of syrian refugees into europe and why surviving snake bites may become difficult in parts of africa. ♪ now, the u.s. president has announced a major shift in policy in afghanistan saying more troops will remain on the ground there through 2017. president obama says afghan forces are doing well but they are still not strong enough. there are currently 9800 u.s. troops in afghanistan, most of them were meant to be withdrawn by the end of next year. the u.s. is now expected to keep 5 1/2 thousand troops in the country when obama leaves office in 2017 and focus on counter terrorism and training afghan forces. military leaders meanwhile have been pushing for more u.s. support especially after taliban fighters captured kunduz for three days and we will speak to
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roslyn jordan shortly but first here is her report. >> the u.s. president wanted to leave office with almost no troops deployed in afghanistan but circumstances have forced barack obama to give up that goal. 5500 troops will be stationed around afghanistan after 2016. >> the mission will not change. our troops will focus on training afghans and counter terrorism operations but these bases will give us the presence and the reach our forces require to achieve their mission. >> reporter: right now there are about 9800 u.s. troops in afghanistan, their training and providing battlefield advice and under the president's original plan the number of troops would drop to about 1,000 by the end of 2016. the political pressure on obama to cancel the troop draw down has been building for sometime. on wednesday more than 30 former u.s. officials sent him a letter warning of chaos if u.s. troops leave. >> i think it would be a great
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loss for all of us if all rapid withdraw of american capabilities and counter capabilities of afghanistan added to a deterioration in the situation just as a new president is coming into office. >> also key factors say analysts the taliban's temporary take over of kunduz city and continuing the stability in iraq. >> obama administration is probably taking a hard look at their plan for withdraw in light of what happened in iraq and the pace we pulled out of iraq and saying if it was a right or wrong call in iraq it is raising red flags with afghanistan. >> reporter: last year president obama made a promise to young military officers. >> you are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in iraq or afghanistan. [cheers and applause]
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preventing afghanistan's disintegration means obama is breaking that promise both to the troops and his political legacy. we can speak to roslyn now, roslyn how important of a change is this in the u.s. position in afghanistan? >> this is a signal change in the obama administration's policy on an afghanistan, the president had said even though he argued during his briefing on thursday that he was always open to making adjustments, he had always been committed to changing the posture of u.s. forces in afghanistan in large part because he knows that there is considerable fatigue among u.s. voters in particular about u.s. military operations overseas. and there is a sentiment in this country that with the death of osama bin laden three years ago there is no reason why the u.s.
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should be in afghanistan. however, the president is arguing, as are a number of people who support this move, that it's not just about dealing with the taliban and trying to keep the government of ashaf ghani in power, this is dealing with extremism at large and say there is a fear that if afghanistan isn't made as stable and as secure as possible that you will see not just a resurging taliban but see a resurging al-qaeda and resurging i.s.i.l. moving into afghanistan and wreaking havoc there and that is a picture which they are now arguing is something that they want to prevent. >> how much skepticism or should i say speculation is there about further adjustments or changes to u.s. troop numbers in afghanistan before president obama's time in office comes to an end? >> well, president obama hinted
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that there would be possible more adjustments between now and the end of next year. the defense secretary ash carter told something similar to reporters in the past hour. certainly there are those on capitol hill notably republicans who would like to see a robust troop deployment inside afghanistan and don't think that 5500 troops will be enough and even if you factor in other members of nato that put in their own forces as well they are still arguing for even more troops so it is a very real possibility, marriam. >> live for us in washington d.c. and thanks very much. al jazeera jennifer glasse is in afghan capitol torus us and says the extension will be welcome for the afghan government. >> reporter: taliban fighting in the north in kunduz and taliban taking kunduz the former
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stronghold and holding it for three full days and having a presence there for two weeks before withdrawing and afghan security forces taking that back and saw fighting in the south, the taliban taking control of the main highway between kabul and kandahar for several days stranding self travelers and the two major provinces and helman and the taliban checked afghan security checkpoints killing more than 20 afghan policemen this week and the afghan security forces were able to repel an attack on gazni city and taliban making their presence known in afghanistan and afghan security forces will have the help of u.s. forces for another year at least. ♪ israel is continuing to expand its security operation in east
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jerusalem and the occupied west bank. 32 palestinians and 7 israelis have been killed since the beginning of october. al jazeera's mike hanna has more now on how israel's measures are impacting people's lives. >> reporter: intense security at entrances to the old city, police ordering palestinians to lift their shirts, some instructed to remove their shoes but this group waving israeli flags passes through unchecked. the security clamp down is directly related to the degree of anxiety among jewish israelis. forced alarms about impending attacks sparked panics in a number of locations in israel and several reports of israelis with dark complexions being attacked by fellow jews after they were mistaken by palestinians. >> we work together with members of public who have a large and wide understanding of the security issues involved and
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also aware of the tense period we are in at the moment and there is definitely not panic. >> reporter: even the police spokesman is wearing a stab vest. >> safety is important and walk around with an arm and a religious arm and therefore have to be careful both being jewish, religious and a police officer, i could be targeted. >> reporter: occupied east jerusalem a number of neighborhoods have been sealed off and all residents having to pass through police checkpoints. this barrier adds an hour of commuting time for those needing to go to work or university. only a handful of individuals have been involved in the attacks and the dominant emotion among residents here is anger that so many are being made to pay for the actions of so few. mohamed is a prominent community leader here and he voices the frustration of his fellow residents. >> translator: netanyahu is putting pressure on the palestinian people and the
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people of jerusalem. this pressure 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 the people, the structured humiliation may threaten the very security israel contends it is designed to enforce. mike hanna, al jazeera, occupied east jerusalem. despite the new security measures more violence has broken out in the west bank city of bethlehem. mosque palestinians have hit an israeli military car with a molotov cocktail and burnt tires and threw stones and fired tear gas and israel is bolstering security along the border with gaza and deploying ba ta- --
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batalions and we are joined this afternoon and benjamin netanyahu has been speaking out and what does he have to say about these developments? >> well, he is basically had a briefing of international media and a whole host of allegations once again of insightment. he claims from the palestinians. he was asked, pressed, in fact, on the issue of would he talk to macmood, abass about this issue and about peace in general and he said it was potentially useful to have a meeting and to have unconditional negotiations right away and the palestinians are on the record saying the futile are having negotiations about negotiations and in reality they are worlds apart and secretary of state john kerry is due to come out here and i think this is the context of that offer. but the really all the time was
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spent, majority of the time was spent in his briefing with a series of officials all making out that there have been profound incitement by the palestinians not only social media but also mainstream media to project, to insight violence and there was reference made to an attack on monday in occupied east jerusalem, a settlement there in which a 13-year-old boy was one of the attackers and he had ended up on the ground, injured, reportedly either by stone throwers, jewish stone throwers or hit by a car, there was even a report he had been shot, that is all rather unclear but the point is this boy is in hospital right now. he was very seriously injured but he is in hospital having had treatment for a head injury but mr. abass in his speech on wednesday referred to this boy being killed. now, it was referred to as a lie
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by netanyahu and much play was made of this and really it seems to have been a mistake. but, however, it was pushed very hard in the news conference and made a lot of. >> andrew as you say prime minister netanyahu saying that he is open to a meeting with the palestinian president abass against the back drop of escalating violence you describe and more stringent israeli security measures in jerusalem and the west bank, tell us more about the palestinian reaction to this. >> well, plo has reacted, the president has not reacted to this. he has said, he has made no reference to a meeting at all. that is really for the president to make some remark about but he has said that the occupied east jerusalem seen in mike hanna's report these concrete blocks says it has been turned into a
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concrete bunker by the israeli security forces. he says that really what netanyahu said was a failed attempt to discredit the president, to discredit palestinians and the whole issue was about palestinians including children are being systematically targeted by the security forces. he said that everyone knows that the occupation is causing so much damage and the u.n. and many other international institutions were aware of what israel had done. he also said that the u.n. special repoiture will receive a report on thursday detailing a number of cases which have taken place in which palestinians have been unnecessarily killed. so the heat is on. there is no progress whatsoever in coming to any pass i've stage
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in this and really the losers in all of this are obviously the people, jewish in israel right now and the fear has been a lull on thursday so far but no one, no one is taking any real comfort from this sort of news conference or indeed the sort of statement the palestinians have made in response to it. >> andrew thank you very much, andrew live for us in west jerusalem, much more still ahead for you this half hour on al jazeera and 30 years after the disaster scottish prosecutors identified two new suspects and desperate scenes of greece as refugees try to reach europe as european leaders meet to discuss how to deal with it. ♪
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>> they don't fear anything. >> they're consuming economically important species >> we're offering something on
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our menu that no-one else is offering. ♪ welcome back, you are watching al jazeera, recap of the top stories for you now, president obama has announced plans to keep u.s. troops stationed in afghanistan beyond 2016. delaying plans to completely withdraw from the country. israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu said he is open to meeting the palestinian president and weeks of unrest between israelis and palestinians and comments come as israel expands the military presence in jerusalem. despite the new security measures more violence has broken out in the west bank city of bethlehem and palestinians hit a car with a molotov
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cocktail. seven people died after a greek coast guardianship hit a boat carrying refugees on the greek island of lesbos and three of the seven that died are children and 31 rescued from the sea by the coast guard and the police said the vessel had been trying to flee from the authorities and the national national naturaltys of the dead are not known. brussels says the eu has reached agreement with turkey to stem the flow of refugees trying to cross to europe and eu offered $3.4 billion in support to turkey and in turn it was asked to increase incentives to stay in turkey and sought 600,000 people have reached europe already this year, that is just this year with many countries saying they can't cope with the influx. let's join al jazeera's lee barker who is outside the summit in brussels and what are you hearing? >> well, first i think a deal is
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on the table but the agreement has not been reached and we are aware of some of the issues that have been presented to the media and being perhaps talked about behind closed doors between the eu and turkey and if any agreement comes it will only come after 28 member nations ratify it and that appears to be a long way off yet. the main sticking point is the fact that as part of this deal the eu has promised $3.4 billion worth in aid to turkey providing it gives the incentives necessary to make sure that people arriving in turkey decide to stay there rather than automatically moving westward in the direction of the european union and that is a big challenge for turkey that will have to provide the security, you will have to provide the necessary incentives in terms of comfort, potentially access to the job market for people to feel as if they can build a life for themselves especially if they are leaving war zones like
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syria they will definitely want to feel they can put down roots and stay in a country instead of heading westward and according to the eu in the last few months along 350,000 have passed through turkey and only 50,000 have stayed. another sticking point on this deal also is a plan that would see the liberalizing the nationals with greater access to travel, move and potentially claim asylum in the european union and it's something of a double edged sword, on one hand turkey is ready to clamp down on the number of people entering the country but as part of the deal they want greater access to the european union and not everybody in europe is willing to accept it and the french objective in the past the germans have too from the current circumstances it feels the eu has been pushed into a corn corner. >> lee, what is the likelihood we are going to get some sort of
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consensus on this? >> that is a big question, isn't it? the problem is that there are underlying divisions within the eu on how best to deal with the refugee crisis. and we will see countries north and western europe like germany and france who feel there is a moral imperative to do more and help people escaping war and conflict and the likes of syria and other places in north africa to give them a chance to settle in europe but there are newer countries to the eu, we are talking about nations in eastern and southern europe, the likes of hungry, romania and check with opening the doors for people beyond the borders and hungarian leader mentioned a few weeks ago he felt that the christian identity would in some way be eroded by large numbers
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of muslims to the european union. but the main goal leader at the summit is of course to find that consensus but it is very much a long way off. >> thanks very much with all the latest from the eu summit in brussels. well, the syrian army has launched its long awaited offensive in the northern homs countryside and fighting focused on two areas and located on a highway that links the provinces of homs and hama and the government wants this route to help bring supplies to battles up north especially in idlib and aleppo and a corridor on the strongholds on the coast and capital damascus and dana 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 airforce
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and it's the second offensive of its kinds since the military intervention of rush that is sha and providing support to allies on the ground as they try to advance into opposition territory but civilians are caught in the middle. >> translator: this is a civilian area. i.s.i.l. 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 started to leave the areas that are being hit but they can't leave the countryside because all the roads are blocked. there is only one route out and under government control and people are afraid they will be arrested if they go there. >> reporter: the syrian military says the aim of the offensive is to aim the presence
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of what it calls terrorists and restore security and stability and recapturing the homs countryside would help the government secure territory linking its seat of power in damascus to its popular base, the coastal all white heart land. >> homs has always wanted to control and in center syria and there are roads that lead across the country. it's important for the regime and for the opposition because 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 in the nearby province of idlib are battle grounds and there are reports of a major ground operation being planned around the northern city of aleppo. the homs offensive is links to a broader military campaign that began two weeks ago when russia started air strikes, targeting opposition-controlled areas in the west of the country and syrian government and allies are
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on the offensive and for now 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 concessions. dana with al jazeera, beirut. scottish prosecutors say they identified two libyans as suspects in the bombing and believe the two people were involved in bringing down the pan am plane in 88 that killed 270 people and scottish prosecutors and attorney general want to work with the authorities to investigate people in turkey and the only person convicted of the attack was one who died in 2012. ukraine won a seat on the security council giving it a platform to spar diplomatically with permanent member russia and four countries were also elected
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to the council. all five countries were unopposed in the bids for the nonpermanent seat. in addition to possible problems between ukraine and russia there can also be clashes between japan and its rival china also a permanent member as well as with russia and japan had territorial disputes and they will join for two years terms starting on the first of january. a medical emergency is looming for snake bite victims in some african counties. the last batch of an effective venom antidote expires next year and doctors are not sure how they will be able to treat patients and we have more from northern nigeria. >> this hospital in north eastern nigeria treats snake bite victims and traveled 100 kilometers to get to this health facility for specialized care. it may be run down but at least he is being treated.
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like most victims here is a poor farmer barely able to feed his family. >> translator: i was weeding my farm and grabbed a snake unknowingly, it bit me. shortly after i started feeling dizzy and fainted, it's a very painful bite. >> reporter: every month an average of 370 patients come to the hospital for help. this hospital struggles with a huge number of patients seeking ur gents medical attention after being bit by snakes and getting a bed here is serious and they are stretched and many brought to the hospital do not survive and it could get worse next year when the last batch of antidotes expire and that is a billing big concern for medical experts. >> if they stop producing snake venom we are in trouble because many people will die because most of the indian drugs are not specific for arsenics so there
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will be a serious negative consequence. >> reporter: this hospital now has to make due with an antidote limited to treat three snake venom and outside the hospital the farming community is facing another crisis, a growing population means an increase in demand for growing food. that set up a conflict between people and the reptiles that also call this rocky community home. the situation has reached a point where a bounty is placed on every snake killed. >> we hunt the snakes ourselves to get some relief. and it's two years hunting the snakes and pay for them and bring the snake down to the palace and they said we should stop killing the snakes because if we kill them all there will be nothing to produce antisnake venom for other people to use. >> reporter: if the antivenom does run out communities may be forced to ignore that advice to
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protect themselves, mohamed devries, al jazeera, nigeria. remember you can get the latest on everything we are covering right now, the address for that is al, there you will find the comment, analysis and video on demand. new york new york 8.4 million people call the city home. >> it's snowing hard in central park and 20 in midtown and snowfall one to two feet and saying we could have snow hour. >> the coldest winter in 81 years and coincides with a grim reality. more people in new york city are