the syrian army takes a town as it continues its offensive against rebel fighters. this is al jazeera live from doha. also ahead, a step forward for diplomacy invitations for indirect talks on the syria crisis are to be sent out in the coming hours. we are live in geneva. stark market panic in china.
the world health organisation issues a new warning on the zika virus suspected of causing birth defectss in the americas. activists say government forces have recaptured one of the important towns in syria. sheikh maskin list the city of damascus with deraa. >> reporter: it has taken the army weeks of intense fighting with rebels to take this town in deraa. state television showed this video after securing lines. battles are reported to be continuing on the outskirts. the importance of the ruined
town cannot be understated. it lies on the main road linking the capital damascus to deraa where the problem started nearly five years ago. government forces had given up much of this territory until the russian armed forces began their intervention last september >> things have turned around 180 degrees for the regime since the russians came in. just last summer the al-nusra front, the al-qaeda affiliate, was making gains in the province. now there is this significant reversal which will affect the rebels' logistics. >> reporter: russian jets have carried out thousands of missions helping the syrian government regain control of territory nationwide. it has just recaptured the town of rabia. the russian aerial bombardment has been criticized for being
indiscriminate. the kremlin insists i.s.i.l. and other armed groups are being targeted. some human rights groups say the air strikes have killed more civilians than fighters. gerald tan meanwhile diplomatic efforts to get the warring sides in syria to talk continue. russia's foreign minister is holding a press conference in moscow and he is addressing the gains of the as add forces-- bashar al-assad force. >> translation: the activities of the russian air forces responding to the syrian government helped to break the trend in the area and narrow the control controlled by terrorists live now to our diplomatic editor james bays who joins us from geneva where those indirect talks on syria are due to begin later this week. we say that the russian air
strikes have helped the bashar al-assad forces. how has what has happened on the ground there impacted on the peace talks there? >> reporter: it is absolutely certain what the russian foreign minister said was true, that what has happened on the ground in syria has changed dramatically and you saw it in gerald tan's report since last summer when the russians got involved. the bashar al-assad regime was in some trouble and the situation has changed a great deal since then. even the gains that we've seen by the syrian government, the syrian regime, in southern syria in deraa is in part because of them. they said they pushed back the terrorists. what the opposition will tell you is that they have pushed back rebel forces not necessarily i.s.i.l. and other groups that are considered by
the united nations, i.s.i.l. and al-nusra, to be terrorist groups. i think it is important to see the fighting that has taken place in the lft last few hours and weeks in the context of imminent talks which are slated to take place on friday because on the top of the agenda of the talks is to get a ceasefire in place possibly across syria but certainly in parts of syria. if you're going to put a ceasefire in place, that freezes the military situation. clearly before that happens, people want to gain as much ground as they can and that's why moves are being taken in these final hours before the talks. in this case moves by the syrian government to take territory that when there's a ceasefire will stay theirs an invitation for those talks on friday are due to be sent out later today. do we know who is going to be invited? does each side want to be there? >> reporter: i think it's a question of who is invited and
who accepts the invitations. let me take you back to where the controversy here is. that's that this process, the current talks process, was started, in effect, by the u.s. and russia who felt it was time for a new initiative. they pulled together all the international players, all the regional players, a series of meetings in vienna that has become known as the vienna process. under that process they said saudi arabia you can decide on the opposition and who is going to come from the opposition. the saudis and riyadh have had meetings and come up with the so-called riyadh list. since that list was formed russia said it is not happy with that list. if you look back to last december, the u.n. security council endorses the process but said the final limitations should be set by the u.n. which
gives discretion to staffan de mistura, so he invited the list and a wider representation of opposition. the question is exactly who he has invited and the fighting groups on that list given that others are now being invited as well, are they going to come we are just hearing from lavrov in moscow saying it will be basically impossible to reach a syria peace deal without the kurds taking part in those talks in geneva as well. the kurds presence is also another controversial issue here. >> reporter: it is because kurdish fighters particularly in the north of syria have been fighting i.s.i.l. but other opposition groups will say they're not really been doing anything about fighting the bashar al-assad regime and that's why they're not popular among the rest of the
opposition. turkey certainly has a problem with some kurdish involvement in this process. that is another headache for staffan de mistura who is under the resolution is the man who sends out the invites, he may have already done it, but send them out at some point in the coming hours. clearly when we get word back on who is invited we will be able to tell you what side he has taken on that kurdish issue thank you for that. in the last hour chinese shares have plunged to more than 6%. investors have panicked again and sold off more of their shares. the main stock market fell more than 6%. that's another multi million dollar lost. tell us more about what has caused this latest drop.
>> reporter: that's right. let's just put the numbers in more context. the shanghai composite index has fallen 6.42%, but if we go back to this year, the stock markets have dropped about 18%. going back further to june last year, we will see that the shanghai composite index has fallen more than 40%. this all indicates investors' concerns over slowing economic growth not only in china but also globally. this latest route in the stock markets moirs the drop in oil prices which rallied over the weekend but then fell again to new lows. the drop in china stock markets mirror that. it also indicates just how worried consumers and investors are over the economic conditions in china. china has recently reported its slowest economic growth in 25
years. gdp grew 6.9% in 2015. it is growing at its slowest rate. the other thing that has investors worried and concerned is the drop. there are assurances from the china central bank that it will not allow the currency to depressure yat further-- deappreciate further, they're still worried about the economy the world health organisation is warning the zika virus could spread to almost every country in the americas. scientists are investigating a suspected link between the mosquito born disease and birth defects in thousands of babies in brazil. a report from mexico city. >> reporter: it all started last
may with brazil's first case of the zika virus. even calling in the army couldn't stop it infecting one and a half million people say brazilian health authorities. it is spread by a specific kind of mosquito and is not normally life-threatening for adults. doctors think it also causes microcephaly, a condition in which new borns heads and brains don't develop. they noticed a massive surge in the illness after zika arrived. the link between the two hasn't been proven, but now el salvador, ecuador and colombia all with a growing number of cases have taken the step of advising women against getting practising unanimity in the immediate future. u.s. authorities themselves with some imported cases have issued guidelines on travel to zika hot spots >> we are concerned about the potential conflicts to the
foetus by zika. we ask women to seriously consider travelling to here if pregnant. >> reporter: there are cases which will probably spread to every country in the region except chile and canada who don't have the type of mosquitos that carry the virus. currently there's no vaccine or cure. mexico is already fumigating public spaces and houses in the south to try and get ahead of the virus >> you will not stop the virus. we haven't been able to stop other viruses spread by these mosquitos. to prevent wear long sleeve, pants and repellant. >> reporter: all this months away from the brazil olympics where a huge influx of visitors will also be vulnerable to the
apparent threat of this virus coming up after the break on al jazeera. >> reporter: i'm andrew simmons near the border with syria. i will be reporting on refugee children living in poverty and the rainbow project that is giving them some hope fighting for an apology, the filipino women kept as sex slaves by the japanese during the second world war. the only way to get better is to challenge yourself,
and that's what we're doing at xfinity. we are challenging ourselves to improve every aspect of your experience. and this includes our commitment to being on time. every time. that's why if we're ever late for an appointment, we'll credit your account $20. it's our promise to you. we're doing everything we can to give you the best experience possible. because we should fit into your life. not the other way around.
welcome back. a reminder of our top stories now on al jazeera. activists say syrian government forces have retaken one of the most important towns in the south of the country. it is a key supply line linking damascus and the city of deraa. chinese shares have plunged more than 6% after oil prices have reduced again. the world health organisation is warning the zika virus could spread to almost every country in the americas. scientists are investigating the virus with babies. more than 30,000 syrian children who are refugees in turkey don't go to school. many work illegally trying to feed their families.
a local initiative is trying to ensure some kids get to class. >> reporter: they should be in school, but instead they're turning out whatever the weather to forrage for anything that might make them some money. paper, cardboard or plastic that could be cashed in for recycling is what these boys are looking for. they move on with empty bags. in turkey now the u.n. estimates more than 660,000 rirn refugees are of schoolage but well beyond half of them don't go to school. here in the back streets there's a ray of light for these children. some warmth and some hope in a dismal situation. it may be a small building, but a group of volunteers with so up effort and so much enthusiasm are using just two rooms to try to start to educate 65 children
with very little money indeed. >> welcome. >> reporter: this teacher says most of their pupils are street kids or children whose parents can't afford the money to get them to schools. she says it's difficult trying to help with the children's behavioural and learning problems. >> we are not a very muched indicated to do this type of task. we are trying to do our best. we are looking for information, trying to deal with them with love and with passion and to do our best. >> reporter: the children get a snack before leaving at midday. it is the youngest of the pupils who are the most receptive to the teachers. this girl says "i love this school and i come every day". it's called the rainbow center. no-one here is paid to teach. there's no religious instruction and no reference to politics.
>> translation: the children who don't go to school because they have to work in the streets or whenever, they've lost their rights to a childhood and especially an education. it has all been taken away by the war. >> reporter: a tragic mix of poverty and conflict have left the children in this way. the rainbow center doesn't pretend to be a school, more a temporary prop for these young lives. the children and their teachers can only dream of a permanent solution several european states are planning to extend temporary border control for up to two years. the announcement follows a meeting of minister in amsterdam about the schengen zone. this is in response to the refugee crisis. in the u.s. presidential hopefuls from the democratic party have held a town hall forum in aiowa ahead of the
nomination contest in less than aweek there. bernie sanders has sharpened his attacks against hillary clinton. this was the last chance for voters to hear from the three main democratic hopefuls. >> reporter: it was a chance for iowa voters to pose questions directly to the democratic presidential candidates, including hillary clinton, now struggling to overcome scandals of the past. >> i've heard from a few people my age that they think you're dishonesty but i would like to hear from you and why you feel the enthusiasm isn't there? >> there is nothing to it. they throw all this stuff at me and i'm still standing. >> reporter: she used the stage to echo statements she has made on the campaign trail. as a former secretary of state she has the most foreign policy experience to be president. she took aim at the republican front runner donald trump for his statements against muslims
>> we need a coalition that includes muslim nations to defeat i.s.i.s., and it's pretty hard to figure out how you're going to make a coalition with the very nations you need if you spend your time insulting their religion >> reporter: her main rival acknowledged clinton has considerable foreign policy experience >> hillary clinton voted for the war in iraq. >> reporter: as an anti establishment candidate who has pledged to overcome inquality in the u.s. by breaking up major banks and reining in wall street, he says banks were deregulated when her husband was president >> i le led the efforts against wall street deregulation. see where hillary clinton was on this issue >> reporter: despite poling showing clinton and sanders leading the race in iowa, there
is a third candidate, martin o'malley who made the argument he is the best man to overcome the racial tensions plaguing the u.s. >> black lives matter >> reporter: despite him telling his supporters to stand strong, his biggest challenge will be to prove he is still relevant in a contest that has become a two mf person race a peace deal could be signed between farc rebels and the colombian government. the u.n. security council has agreed to a situation. >> reporter: the government of colombia still has its differences with the farc, but on this request to the security council both parties agree, the u.n. should over see the implementation of an eventual peace deal. the security council unanimously agreed. it authorised a political mission consisting of unarmed observers. they will monitor a ceasefire
and laying down of arms. >> translation: this concrete mandate of the security council will build confidence in a country determined to overcome the aftermath of a long conflict that caused too much suffering for generations. we see our future with hope in our capacity for reconciliation which is essential in renewing our society. >> reporter: colombian president launched the peace process hoping to bring an end to a half century of conflict with the rebels. march 23 of this year is the deadline for an agreement. the peace deal is yet to be signed, but with the world mired in conflict, the prospect of resolving this one through negotiations was seen as a victory for many u.n. ambassadors >> this is exactly the sort of role the united nations should be playing, supporting conflict prevention and conflict resolution at the national level. >> reporter: the council instructed the secretary general
to make preparations and recommendations on the size and operational aspects of the mission as soon as possible. he will make his final report to the council within 30 days of a deal which many believe is now more likely than ever the bodies of 13 people have been discovered after their boat capsized off the coast of malaysia. police believe those on board were illegal migrants from indonesia. four men and nine women's body were found on a beach. a search and rescue operation is underway to find other survivors. the emperor of japan is making an historic viflt to the philippines which the japanese army occupied during the second world war. diplomatic relations were restored six years ago. there were no apologies to the women who were captured and forced to be sex slaves. >> reporter: fighting for
justice. these women have kept silent most of their lives, traumatised and ashamed of being forced into sexual slavery by the japanese imperial army during world war ii. this woman is nearly 90 years old. she clearly recalls the day she was abducted. one japanese soldier started to rape me while the other two held my arms and legs down. when he was done the other one started. even though i was screaming because of the pain my body was in, they kept at it. >> reporter: she is one of almost 200 filipino women who first came forward 25 years ago. they say they were kept as sex slaves in so-called comfort stations to service imperial soldiers. they are still waiting to be recognised officially and having an apology of japan. >> reporter: the imperial
military's views of sex slaves is not up for discussion. the philippines and japan signed a 550 million dollar reparation agreement in 1956. that focused on we building infrastructure, the government consideration the question of sex slavery closed. >> reporter: now with mutual concerns over china's intentions in the region, they're strengthening their cooperation. that could see the forces back >> i think the government hasn't done too much in relation to the comfort women because they're so dependent on the economic relationship. i think they have been giving priority to this large aim and bigger political issues. unfortunately, that relegates this aspect of history to the back door. >> reporter: women like this
woman don't want to be cast aside. >> translation: no matter how hard it is for me, i am still here. just to ask for a due, for what was done to us by the government of japan. >> reporter: every year there are fewer of them left, but beyond compensation they long for an official apology from the japanese government. only then, they say, can they start to reclaim the dignity taken from them 75 years ago to australia where some australians have been observing their national day which marks the arrival of the first white settlers, but for many aboriginals australia day is known as "invasion day". protesters have taken to the streets of sydney calling for the dates to be changed. andrew thomas was there >> reporter: for those here, and there are more than a thousand people, 26 january is not a day to sell operate. it's a day to mourn. the people here it's invasion day. the answer verse re--
anniversary that white people arrived and started pushing aboriginal people off their land. they see no reason to celebrate that. at the very least people here think the date of australia day should be changed so it doesn't fall on a date that people here see as a very sorry occasion. injustice continues to this day. aboriginal people are much more likely to be in jail than nonindigenous people. they're far less likely to have jobs, their educational achievements are lower. even today aboriginal australians are not even recognised in australia's constitution. it reads as if australia was uninhas been ted when white settlors arrived >> it is important to show the rest of the world of what is happening here in australia. australia is still committing genocide against aboriginal people. >> i live here. i see the prejudice. you only have to open your eyes and listen to conversations on trains and things to think, oh
my god we have to educate people. >> these days we still have policies that actually are in place that when you look at them actually discriminatory towards aboriginal people >> reporter: so the people will now march to the center of say where there will be a rally to mark invasion day. it should be said that for the vast majority of australians, this is 26 january, australia day, a day to celebrate with parties, what means to be australia. people don't mind that at some other point in the year. it's the anniversary on 26 january that bothers them. they think more respect should be shown to aboriginal people in australia india has also been celebrating its national day with an elaborate parade. the french president joined the crowd sitting next to the prime minister. francois hollande is wrapping up his visit.
it is to mark the democratic constitution which took effect in 1950. a reminder that you can keep up-to-date with all the news on our website aljazeera.com. the very latest on our top story there and the war in syria and diplomatic efforts to get the warring sides to talk in geneva later this week. aljazeera.com >> for millions it is a simple act, but for me it is often a game of chance. one wrong bite and my immune system goes haywire. for me, a peanut becomes an extreme threat. my heart races. my skin erupts. my stomach is under seige. i am sick, and i am in trouble, but i'm not alone. >> you have fiveut