[ explosion ] >> the syrian army launches a major offensive against rebels around aleppo. ♪ i'm lauren taylor this is al jazeera live from london. also coming up. protests in bangladesh after another blogger is murdered for posting secular views online. we take a look at the philippine's presidential candidate who is vowing to take on a major superpower. this used to be nothing more than a giant junk yard, now it's
one of america's most popular open-air car museums. and we're going to give it a tour. ♪ it's old car city, old car city usa ♪ ♪ hello. syrian state tv is saying that the islamic state of iraq and the levant has abducted as many as 300 people near the syrian capitol. it says those kidnapped were cement workers and contractors. the latest on this, let's go to jamal live in beirut for us. what were the circumstances of this kidnapping? >> reporter: well, lauren, it preesty unclear. we are getting different reports from different sources as you mentioned the syrian government is saying that roughly 300 factory workers were kidnapped by isil. however sources if damascus have
also said that one of the rebel groups, the armed groups fighting the regime were able to free many of those who were held captive. they said that isil beheaded ten initially. and that there was less than a hundred who remain in the hands of isil. obviously -- like i say it is done flikting reports, and as with a lot of things in syria, we think is kind of stacked up, depending on where you hear it from. in that goes to show that not only is that lack of clarity something that is making it difficult to understand who has the upper hand in this war, but it also shows that all of this is being used by each side, and there are so many different sides fighting the regime and the opposition as well as isil to try to further their own agendas, and even people who are just going about their every day lives, working, trying to make a
living, are also in the cross fires of this war. in fact are targets. and this case goes to show once again. >> jamal thank you very much indeed. elsewhere in syria, government forces and their allies have launched an offensive south of aleppo. it's the biggest government operation in the area since a partial ceasefire came into effect in late february. [ gunfire ] >> in the north rebel fighters have launched an offensive. they face fierce fighting against isil. despite the odds and constant attacks a civil defense force in rebel-held areas is still managing to make a difference. >> reporter: amaud works for the syrian l civil defense, also known as the white helmets in aleppo. he is not just a driver. he is also a rescue worker.
and when there are no air raids, he helps clean up the city. >> translator: we're trying to help the people in more than one way, not only recovering people from under the rubble, but we clean the streets, open the roads. >> reporter: around 3,000 volunteers work for the white helmets in rebel-held areas across eight provinces. they are from all walks of life. but they are paying a heavy price. always on the front line. always the first to help. [ explosion ] >> reporter: many times they become the targets. the syria civil defense say at least 109 of their staff have been killed since the group was founded in 2013. in neighboring turkey, we met with the group's regional office. honoring a long list of
casualties, celebrating the unknown heros. against all the of the odds he says they have rescued at least 50,000 people. relying on do -- do nations, second weeks, and equipment. >> translator: we have 519 vehicles, not all are operational. half are secondhand. but we fix and use them, especially in besieged areas. our teams use motorbikes as an ambulance. the systemic targeting, we don't know who is teaching who the systemic bombing of ambulances and civil defense crews. >> reporter: around 1,000 syrian civil defense workers have received training in turkey and jordan nfl the white helmets also have four training centers
inside syria. back in aleppo, these men continue to work despite the threats or hardship. 40 of them were killed in 2015. there are no guarantees that this year will be better. the truce has brought relative peace and calm, but it won't be too long before they are hit again. meanwhile members of syria's main opposition group are in saudi arabia. they are in riyadh to discuss their concerns prior to talks to try to end the war, which are due to begin next week. the hnc was formed in december. it's one of the three opposition delegations participating in the geneva talks. chair of contemporary middle east studies says the opposition are trying to gain ground ahead of the talks.
>> what we have witnessed in the last -- one week or so is a escalation of battles in particular in aleppo, homs, and the damascus suburbs. what is happening in aleppo is the most alarming, because the government claims that the opposition along with al-nusra front have taken one of the most strategic hills in north aleppo. and now what the government has been doing in the last two days to recapture these territories. there is also major fighting between the free syrian army and the kurds in aleppo as well. so there is a great deal of escalation. as the geneva talks get closer, both sides are trying to maximize their interests. both sides are trying to basically have the upper hand in the diplomatic talks in the next few days. ♪
the taliban in afghanistan has revealed a new strategy which includes plans to negotiate with the u.s. and other western countries. new tactics were re vealed in a letter. let's go live to jennifer glass in kabul for us. how different this strategy from what they were doing before? >> reporter: well, lauren, if this letter is authentic, and if the taliban leadership has endorsed it, it is a significant shift for the taliban who have always said they would never negotiate while there were foreign forces here in afghanistan, and they would not negotiate with what they call the puppet government in kabul. this letter says that it is a strategy to quote end the occupation and establish the islamic -- islamic system here in afghanistan, and that it would include talking with the united states and other western
governments, talking with the afghan government, and as i said a very, very significant shift. the real question is -- who is behind this letter? who supports this letter? we have talked to the taliban representatives -- the taliban spokesman here says he hasn't heard about threater. we haven't seen the letter circulating here in afghanistan. the afghan president's office says it also does not know about this. but really it's always difficult to know when taling with the taliban, thanks sometimes take a while to move through. this letter was apparently dated april 4th. two members of the taliban, but the taliban representative said he has not heard about this letter. >> jennifer glasse thank you very much indeed. one of libya's rival administrations has backtracked on its decision to step down. the u-turn has left those in and
outside of the country confused. so who is in charge now? >> reporter: since the fall of gadhafi, various entities have completed to exploit and fill the political vacuum. in the .capitol tripoli is a self declared government. the coalition is headed by this man and is supported by powerful militias. the justice minister on wednesday said it was stepping down, but now he is threaten prosecute any ministers who join the new government. the gna still does not have to support of the third administration, the house oprepresentatives, that's the
parliament. that's meeting of the eastern city of tobruk, pushed owl of tripoli two years ago, it continues to claim legitimacy. it was recognized by the u.n. until last year. the u.n. envoy to libya says its support for the new government of national accord will be crucial. >> the house of representatives has to continue to arrange a meeting with all members of the parliament in order to endorse the government. it is very clear. the -- legitimacy comes from the parliament. >> reporter: then there is the newly formed state council. the state council is made up primarily of former members of the gnc, the old parliament in tripoli. it was agreed in the u.n. deal that this body would serve as an
the workers are from a cement company. the afghan taliban says it will negotiate with the u.s. as well as other western governments and improve its relations with the government in kabul. and one of libya's rival governments appeared to reverse its decision to step down. egyptian property cuters are in the italian capitol to up dpat authorities in rome on the investigation of the italian student who went missing on the 25th of january and was found tortured in a ditch nine days later. the foreign minister has threatened immediate and proportion at it action. sonya is following the case for us in rome and has the latest.
>> reporter: behind me the egypt yandle gags has been meeting with italian prosecutors to discuss details surrounding the murder of the italian student who was found murdered in a ditch just outside of cairo. now in that meeting, there has been a dau see yay of 2,000 pages presented that contains testimony from 200 witnesses. it is a case that has aroused a lot of emotion here in this italy. he was just conducting his studies and found murdered there. and the italian people have been exerting more pressure on the italian government to do something about finding out the truth behind this murder. now, italians have been extremely angered about how the egyptian authorities have dealt with the investigation so far,
the misinformation, the different stories that have been told, and also the italian prosecution when they conducted their own investigations in cairo, discovered their own very different sides to the story, but what is happening here is that due to that pressure, the italian government now seems to be now exerting more pressure, and taking a more decisive stance to the egyptian government, saying that there would be repercussions if the there wasn't an attempt to try and find out the truth behind this case. also, the prime minister said that the italian people were owed the truth as to what really happened to the student. belgian authorities are leased new video of one of the main suspects in the brussels attacks. police launched a public appeal for any information on the
person known as the man in the hat. the footage reports to show the man who was seen with the two suicide bombers at the airport. >> the third person present on the scene, the so-called man with a hat, as well as the vest he was wearing at the time. we especially appeal to people who might have filmed or taken a photograph of the suspect, or think they can provide information on this issue. lawyers for the prime surviving suspect in last year's paris attacks have told a brussel's court their client wants to be extradited to france within a few weeks. he wasn't at the court hearing. he is alleged to be instrumental in the shooting and bombs in mrairs last november. after four months on the run he was captured during a police
raid in march. protesters have taken to the streets of bangladeshi's capitol after a blogger was hacked to death with machetes. hundreds of students from the victim's university have demanded justice after this latest in a series of killings of liberal bloggers and secular activists. he was attacked by up to four men as he walked home. the law student had expressed secular views on line, and showed support for the pup initialment of war crimes. our correspondent sent this update via skype. >> reporter: we know he was intercepted by a motorcycle, a couple of them, i guess, on a motorcycle, and the first actually they hit him with machete, and then they got down and shot him to make sure he was dead. and the stores all around shut their doors because they were
scared of what was going on. the police have yet to confirm the full detail. but he is the seventh blogger to be killed within the last three years. the most famous was an american bangladeshi blogger who's case hasn't been resolved yet. that case to this day hasn't been resolved, and there is severe criticism against the government to not really crack down on these people behind this killing, no one for sure knows exactly what is going on, but he yesterday wrote in his facebook there is certain for the safety and law and order in bangladesh, and this morning, around 8:30 local time he was attacked and killed. so, you know, it is quite a great concern. government keeps promising they will resolve this, but there seems to be a lack of inertia, there is no pro-active movement from the government to resolve
these cases. a heat wave in southern india has killed at least 66 people. the problem is compounded by frequent power cuts and water shortages. 85 people died from a heat wave in the same region last year. vietnam has elected a new prime minister. the new prime minister has vowed to push on with economic reforms and crack down on corruption. he has also pledged to protect vietnamese sovereignty which has been put to the test by china. a presidential candidate in the philippines have also vowed to take on beijing in the disputed islands.
>> reporter: he has never been known to play nice. the 71 year old mayor of this city, who loves his big bikes notorious for allegedly using death squads to take out criminals in his city. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: and now as a top contender for president of the philippines, he is vowing to take on one of the world's superpowers, china. >> what will i do? listen to this very carefully. because i will do it. i will sail to china alone. i will bring the flag of the philippines, and i will walk to their airport and plant the filipino flag. if you want to blow me to bits, do it. i would be happy to go with a bang. >> reporter: schie that and the philippines have been an adds
over who owns this string of islands in the south china sea. if elected president, he says he will first try to negotiate with the asian rival, if talks break down, he vows to reclaim the islands himself. >> i will not sacrifice the lives of the soldiers. i would rather go there, and they can waste me if they want. >> he is the most outrageous, the most colorful, and the most interesting character in this up coming presidential elections. >> reporter: political watchers warn that such talk will only escalate tensions with china. >> we like to compare him to trump of the u.s., because he likes to shock with his statements. he can be very irreverent and very reckless. >> reporter: reckless perhaps, but for a mayor that has never run for a national seat, he has amassed a huge following.
his tough pledge of getting rid of crime and corruption, and making the philippines a strong nation resinates. what do you think of him? >> he is a good fighter. [ inaudible ] he performs well. he acts well, he do the actions, do the talking. >> reporter: filipinos may love his get-tough approach, but if elected it will likely guarantee stormy waters ahead on the international front. steve choi, al jazeera, the philippines. and you can see more about the donald trump of the philippines in "101 east" on thursday. the u.s. government will redirect almost $600 million to help fight the zika virus. the money was left over from a fund set up to combat the ebola
outbreak. the president's request is still with the republican-controlled congress. the white house says the mosquito born virus is more widespread in the u.s. as previously thought. one in three american adults will have developed diabetes. the disease kills more americans every year than aids and best cancer combined. tom akerman has the details. >> reporter: twice or more each month these women get together to chart their progress at defeating a common enemy. >> i have a family history of diabetes, so it had been handed down a couple of generations, and my husband has diabetes, and his family are all type 2 diabetics, so my goal was not to get it. >> reporter: there are more americans who show all of the signs of becoming diabetic. >> i was told by the doctor that
unless i changed it, i would be diabetic in like two years. >> reporter: and hundreds of centers across the u.s. groups like this one help to cope with the challenge of pre-diabetes. >> and we can talk about our personal experiences and how -- what problems we have, and what hurdles we have, and we have supported one another. >> reporter: the goal to train the participants in exercise and diet. >> i know i can make this dhang for life. >> reporter: for most patients weight loss can be accomplished without resorting to drugs or surgery. >> it showed that many of those patients actually were able to repel diabetes and have partial or complete remission after weight loss. >> reporter: the government has more than a public health interest in preventing diabetes
which costs billion dollarses in 2012. >> going through this program is going to save thelt care system in the united states. a lot of money in the long run. >> reporter: and now the medicare insurance program for seniors has begun to cover prediabetic prevention and intervention. >> i love bacon too. >> and who really likes to exercise? >> not me. >> me either. >> nobody. [ laughter ] >> so we're good? >> what? oh, you still have prediabetes. big time. >> reporter: part of a campaign that aims to reduce new diabetes cases in the u.s. by more than half of the current rate. tom akerman, al jazeera, maryland. cars which were once written off as scrap are being given a new life.
old car city car city in georgia is home to a huge collection of relics. andy gallagher has more. >> reporter: for more than 80 years it has been the final resting place for cars that are no longer wanted. however, as these woods began to fill with rusting heaps of metal, the reputation of old car city began to grow. the owner played amongst the wrecks as child. >> that's what i hear more than anything. amazing, and i'll be back, and some people stay for two, three, and four days. i'm making a lot of smiles across the world out of this old rust. >> reporter: even pouring rain can't keep photographers away from this classic junk yard. a stranger with a camera ensured
the survival of this wonderland. >> reporter: he said i took some incredible photographs. you should start charging people to come and take photographs. and my dad's rely was, well, great, i'll start with you. how much would you like to pay? unlike many junk yards across the u.s. old car city is prospering. there are more than 4,000 classic american cars here. but what makes this place so unique is its accessibility. there are no guard dogs or signs telling you to keep out, just a simple invitation to watch man made machines being slowly taken back by nature. it is now more of a museum than a junk yard. ♪ old car city, usa >> andy gallagher, al jazeera,
old car city, georgia. ♪ about 2,000 from l.a., highway 4 down here to georgia, don't you see ♪ plenty more for you at anytime on our website. the address is aljazeera.com. and you with watch us live by clicking on the watch now icon. ♪ this is an immigrant community, ted cruz. you are not welcome here! >> reporter: a chilly vep shun in new york for ted cruz. and the democrats clash over who is qualified to be in the white house. and finding justice, residents of flint sue the governor