tensions ahead of friday prayers at al-aqsa mosque in jerusalem after weeks of violence. we are there live. ♪ ♪ you are watching al jazeera live from our headquarters in doha. also coming up. the u.s. extends its military mission in afghanistan astill bana at intensify. the syrian army backed by russian airstrikes launches a major offensive in homs. plus. another sign of improving ties between washington and havana, an iconic cuban band
performs at the white house. ♪ ♪ hello, the united nations security council will be holding an emergency meeting following vehicles of violence in occupied east jerusalem. since of 1st of october 34 palestinians and seven israelis have been kill. friday prayers will begin in a couple of hours but not all muslims can attend as israel continues its restrictions on men under the i'm of 40 from taking part. mike hannah reports on the tense situation there. >> reporter: intense security at entrances to the old city. police ordering palestinian to his 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 sank side i among jewish
israelis. false alarms about impending attacks have sparked panic in a anybody of location of israel and several reports of israelis with dark complexes being attacked by fellow juice after they were mistaken for palestinians. >> our security forces work together with the members of public who have a wide and large understanding of the securityishes involved. and also are aware of the tense period that we are in at the moment. there is definitely not panic. >> reporter: but even the police spokes amman is wearing a stab vest. >> my percentage safety is important i walk wajahat around with a religious man and therefore have to be careful both being jewish, religious and police officer, 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 checkpoints, this area adds at least 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: putting pressure on the palestinian people and the people of jerusalem. this people our will not calm things down, to calm it down you need a political decision not a security one. >> reporter: the warning that this punishment of the people, the structured humiliation may they want the very security israel contends it's designed to enforce. >> let's cross over and bring in mike hannah joining us from occupied east jerusalem. absence from any political decisions at this point in the conflict there what are we picturing today, this friday?
>> reporter: well, once again it is friday, a holy day for muslims, many will be wish to go come and pray at the al-aqsa mosque compound in the old city behind me here. just a quick reminders where in current crisis begin on the 13th of last month string i didn't want restrictions applied to the mosque. but at the same time a group of israelis led by a government minister gained access to al-aqsa mosque compound claiming it was their religious right this time of a jewish poll are holiday that sparked up the current crisis which has remained ever since, so what we are looking at here is circumstances that have a rizing out of actions here at the al-aqsa mosque compound and continuing to as you mentioned, restrictions still in place alleviating the tiny bit of men over the age of 40 only allowed to enter or woman are allowed to enter, but all around the area in occupied east jerusalem
roadblocks on every street corner, everybody passing through the identity check. their age is checked. but further away from this immediate vicinity there are concrete blocks as you is you in my report. putting many east jerusalem neighborhoods basically the freedom of movement of those who live in occupied east jerusalem massively restricted in terms of the current security regulations in force. and i must also remember other little issues that are being reported at the moment, all of a sudden parking fines are being issued in the refugees camp, for example, there is no parking that nba that area, never has been i am told that each fine is some 500, that's nearly $200. businesses in the old city are being fined suddenly for not imposing no smoke restricts, we are seeing a whole welter of restrictions that are being imposed. laws that are being enforced clearly going to inflame passions in occupied east jerusalem. >> for the palestinian authority, mike, and the
official says, how much security cooperation is there between their forces and the israelis? >> reporter: that's a very good question. we have seen at the political level an increasingly sharp divide, between israel and i palestinian leaders exchanging insults, accusing each other of lying. all sorts of high-level coming from the palestinian leader shim. but on the ground, the situation can be very different. overnight, there was an attack on the joseph's tomb, a jewish religious site in the very heart of the occupied west bank. now there is area-a which means it's controlled by the palestinian authority. palestinian authority forces were sent in to disburse those who had attacked the time. this is a perfect example of how sometimes there is cooperation if not coordination on the ground. the israeli army, for its part says it will rebuild or repair
the damage done to seven's tomb overnight. but there are these examples where the palestinian forces are exercising their powers within area-a. this the area which is under direct palestinian authority control which only comprises at present incidentally some 15% of the occupied west bank. >> okay, mike, thank you for that update from east jerusalem. now, the u.s. is shifting its policy in afghanistan. president obama says american soldiers will stay there until 2017. he had hope today withdraw almost all of the troops before then, but he says the extension was necessary because of the fragile security situation. rosalind jordan has more from washington. >> reporter: the u.s. president want today leave office with almost no troops to deployed in afghanistan. but circumstances have forced barack obama to give up that goal. fave 500 troops will be stationed around afghanistan
after 2016. >> the mission will not change. on you troops will fucus 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 90 a hundred u.s. troops in afghanistan, they are training and providing battlefield advice, 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. on firms sent him a letter warning of chaos if u.s. troops leave. >> i think it would be a great loss for all of us if a too rapid withdrawal of american capabilities and counter terrorism capabilities and that led to a identity tour o deteriw
president came in. >> reporter: the take over of kunduz city and continue stability in -- instability in iraq. >> the obama administration is probably take a hard look of there plan and what is happening in iraq. and us pulling out. without saying it was the right or wrong flag i am sure it's raising red flags for the disengagement in 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 in to combat in iraq or afghanistan. [cheering and applause] >> reporter: but preventing afghanistan's decent gracious means obama is break that go promise both to the troops and his political legacy. the syrian army backed by russian airstrikes has launched a major offensive in toms at
least 75 people, though, have been reportedly killed. the fighting focused on two areas on a highway that links the provinces of homs and ham a. the government meets this route to bring surprise to the north especially in idlib and aleppo and all wants to secure a tour door between eights strong holds along the cost and the capital dudamascus, zeina khodr reports. >> reporter: the battle in northern homs country side has begun, rebels aring under fire. this is a coordinated fight between sear january forces and russia. it's the second time since russia started fighting. it is providing support to allies on the ground as they try to advance in to opposition territory 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 as civilians are being killed and injured, 10s of thousands of people live there. many displaced from fighting elsewhere in the country. and this corner of syria has been surrounded by the army for years. the only road out leads to government-controlled territory. >> translator: people are afraid. people have start today leave the areas that are being hit. but they can't leave the country side because all the roads are blocked. there is only one route out but it's under government control people are afraid they will be arrest first degree they go there. >> 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 country side would help the government secure territory linking its seat of power in du damascus tos popular base, the coastal alawite heartland. tram homs is the area they always want today control. it's in center of syria and
there are roads that lead across the country. it's important for the regime and for the opposition because this is the capital of the revolution. and we will fight until the end. >> reporter: the opposition is also under attack on other front. the northern hama country side in southern areas in the nearby province of idlib are battle ground. 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 would weeks ago when russia started airstrikes targeting opposition-controlled areas in the west of the country. 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 concessions.
zeina khodr, al jazeera, beirut. iran has once more denied reports that it's sending ground forces to syria. the head of the national security committee met syria's president bashar al-assad in damascus. he says he would consider any request by syria's government for sends ground forces iran a strong ally of syria already has military advisers inside the country. let's brings in a retired lebanese generally joining us from beirut reports of a syrian and russian military operation aching itaking place in the soun aleppo province. how significant is this operation? >> i think that the syrians launched attacks in several front in the north and in the south and the middle area of homs as well. so the -- it seems that they the
the measured offensive now is in aleppo. so far the syrian army units supported by hezbollah fighters attacked the country side little southern country i side of aleppo and the syrian fighters have thrown leaflets in the city dominated by rebels calling the armed people to surrender to the syrian army. so it seems that the principle access of offensive is in aleppo. >> how would you evaluate the russian military operation in syria? we are now entering the third week that the russians have joined this fight. have they achieved what they have set out to do? >> reporter: yes, the russian air strikes, the armed opposition seemed to be effective because they hit the
vital targets such as field headquarters and weaponry arsenals and gatherings of the armed people in idlib and others but the advance on the ground of army units is still slow until now. i think now the russians will accelerate the pedal and their airstrikes in order to push the -- [speaking at the same time] >> when you say accelerate the pedal is there a risk of russians will become involved in aina wider conflict and possibln the ground? >> so far the russians, declared that they do not aim to take part in any ground operations and it seems that no russian boots on the ground. and even the force -- the
russian air force is a task force it's not an air force or navel base it's a task force for a certain task in fighting the terrorist organizations, that means it's ease we withdraw it within a couple of weeks. so i think the. [ inaudible ] is far away from involved in -- of getting involved in a land war in syria. >> we thank you for your time with us on al jazeera. now two suicide bombers have killed at least 30 people in northern nigeria. the attackers targeted a mosque near the capital of borno state. no one has claimed responsibility for the attack but it's expected the armed group boko haram may be behind it. on wednesday three suicide bombers killed seven people nearby crossing over to mohamed is riidris joining us to tell us about the death toll it now
seems unfortunately to have risen. >> reporter: exactly. more than at least 30 dead and dozens others injured according to rescue officials. now, what actually happened was the suicide bomber detonated his device as muslims were praying in the evening prayer in the didn't in an area. [ inaudible ] and then as people gathered to help those afternooned by the first blast a suicide bombing standing outside the bourque detonated his device and that caused the most damage in the attacks launched last night. >> the announce. u.s. deployment sending a few hundred military personnel to fight boko haram, how does that actually affect the fight against the group? >> reporter: as you know the multinational joint task force as you know is a waiting the u.n. mandate to lawn. and so far the nigeria material
has kicked out boko haram in most of the areas they occupy, it has bombed enclaves, chased them to the forest and some of them are even rumored to be sighted along the shores of. [ inaudible ] but cameroon is also stepping up its operations niger similarly and chad is also stepping up operations. but over the past few weeks, what we have been seeing is that boko haram is helping up its operation as the military ramps up its attacks against boko haram using bombs like this, suicide bombs and roadside bombs placed at strategic locations where a lot of people gather. so as to cause maximum damage. and we have seen these in a number of ways. what people are hoping now is that with the presence of the american troops and the drones there, probably there would be better intelligence, surveillance and they hope that this will be shared with troops of the region in their fight
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compound in a few hours refrictions remain on men under the age of the 40 taking part. later an emergency meeting on the spiraling violence between israeli forces and palestinians. u.s. president barack obama says 5 1/2 thousand troops will stay in afghanistan after 2016. it's a major shift in american policy. it had planned to withdraw almost all troops by end of next year. and syrian troops backed by russian jets have attacked rebels in the south of a hleb owe. the area the army targeted is close to a main road heading to capital damascus. on thursday at least 75 people were killed in another offensive by the government in homs. bulgarian border guards have shot dead an asylum, see after he crossed illegally in to the country from turkey. the afghan man who died on his way to hospital was among a group of refugees spotted by a patrol near the a town the.
it's the first serious incidents involving refugees and bulgaria. seven refugees have died after their boat collided with a coast guard swing vehicle being three baby and a warm were among the dead. thousands of refugees are risking their lives every day as they attempt to reach europe by sea from turkey. now, the european union and turkey have agreed on a joint plan to address the refugees crisis. e.u. leaders saying it will up sure turkey isn't used as a transit point for refugees heading to europe. the issue you topped agenda at a sum knit brussels as neave barker reports. >> reporter: european leaders arrived in brussels facing multiple challenges. the war in syria, conflict in ukraine and the aftershocks of the greek bailout saga took the
20 a nation block under mounting strain, it's the unrelenting refugees cries that's continues to dominate european politics. more than half a million peel, many refugees from syria, have arrived in the e.u. this year. a large number have traveled through turkey to europe's shores. but now a preliminary agreement with turkey to help reduce the number of pima tempting to make it to europe. >> translator: we received a report very early this morning that there had been an outcome of the negotiations and we were then able to reach an agreement this evening with regard to the exact shape of the joint action plan. >> reporter: under the draft plan, turkey would receive $3.4 billion in aid in return for clamping down on the numbers of people crossing its territory heading towards the european union. the money would be used on tightening security. but it would also be used on creating greater incentives for people to stay in turkey. greater levels of integration
and better living conditions also. but as well as the money, there is also talk of liberalizing visa restriction on his turkish nationals entering the european union, conditions not everyone in the e.u. is prepared to accept. including the french president francois hollande. >> translator: we cannot have a situation where in exchange for turkey helping to us hold back refugees in its territory, we liberalize the visa system with no condition conditions attache. allowing visas for vims whose identities we don't know and can't check. so there will be a process with lots of conditions attached. it's normally to discuss with the turks, but france and other countries will pay attention to make sure that conditions are not only set, but also respected. >> reporter: but with europe under pressure to come up with a lasting solution to the refugees crisis, the e.u. may have little choice but to concede to turkey's demands. >> willing tons contemplate
these lib saying reflects a certain level of desperation on a number of member states that they want to stem the flow of arrival to the european and they want turkey to play a key role because they geographic i cannily speaking their best option. >> reporter: european union has also promise today start new talks with turk by joining the e.u. eventually. but in the short-term there is the question of where billions of dollars in aid to turkey will come from. the e.u. is still suffering from the effects of the eurozone crisis, europe may have to dig deep if it wants greater control over its borders. neave barker, al jazeera, brussels. flash floods have triggered million dollar slides in the u.s. state of california leaving several motorcycl motorists strd people trapped in their homes, storms brought huge downpours north of los angeles and forced parts of the highway to close, firefighters have been rescuing drivers strand ed in their cars new york reports of any deaths or injuries.
now, artists hired by the u.s. tv show home land to write graffiti on its sets have written messages criticizing the show. they were asked to add authenticity to scenes of the syrian refugees camp in lebanon but producers of the show didn't check what was actually written, one the messages in arabic reads home lands is racist. another says home land is not a series, while another reads black lives matter. one of the artists involved in that says it sends a message against stereotypings. >> there is no doubt that the show is incredibly well productioned with great actors. but that's kind of besides the point. it's still important to address this idea that stereotyping an entire region of people, a huge region of people to a very shallow and one dimensional perspective is something that is
potentially dangerous and we wanted to use this opportunity in a way to claim back our image. for the first time in more than 50 years the white house has hosted musicians from cube actual the concert bite buena vista social club marks end of its 20th year of touring but also the revival of u.s. and cuban relations. tom ackerman reports. >> reporter: more than 500 invited dignitaries swayed to the group's after row cuban rhythms as it opened with their snag tune. the white house stopped coming midway through what the group is calling its farewell tour. >> you know fox, nearly two decades this group has been a symbol of the strong bonds between the american and cuban people. the bonds of friendship, culture and of course music. i just hope that they enjoy their stay and i hope that i look as good as they do in a few years.
[ laughter ] >> reporter: a 1999 documentary that won an oscar nomination brought the group international recognition sparking the revival the cuba's golden musical age predating the 1959 revolution. since then they have performed several times in u.s., though, not without attracting' at this castro protesters and even bomb threats. their command performance at the white house follows last july's respiration of full diplomatic relations and the reopening of em bass is in washington and havana. this week u.s. commerce second penny led a delegation of high-level official to his havana, calling for both county to his take more steps towards improved economic relations. and nine u.s. governors from both parties backed obama by urging congress to lift the half century old trade embargo for the benefit of american farmers. meanwhile, the havana government has signed a deal allowing sony
to distribute over 30,000 cuban recordings including buena vista's catalog for worldwide sell. tom ackerman, al jazeera, washington. just a reminder that you can always keep up to date with all the latest news and the day's top stories on our website aljazeera.com. 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