>> russian airstrikes fight their way out of a rebel-held town in the south. ♪ hello, i'm maryam nemazee. this is al jazeera live from london. also coming up, allegations that the u.s. has been spying on israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. >> i'm tanya page reporting on the voting in central african republic where voters hope will bring peace and security.
>> in the u.s. state of missouri rivers are still rising. >> the syrian army backed by russian airstrikes say that it's troops have fought their way int into the rebel-held town. syrian rebels say the assault was supported by the heaviest russian aerial bombing campaign so far in the south. it's part of the government's first major offensive in southern syria since russia joined the fight at the end of september. well, syrian observatory for human rights said that moscow strikes on syria have killed civilians, a third were children.
russia has denied its air campaign has been hitting civilians. we've been following the story and have this report in turkey. >> it all started with intense airstrikes by russian fighters jet paving the way for government troops to advance towards the opposition stronghold. the rebels say that despite the losses, they are regrouping and they are planning towards a counter offensive to push the government troops out of the area. the area is very crucial for the area and the rebels because of a strategic route that connects the city of damascus. president bashar al-assad has always been concerned about
rebel groups present. now there are different factions operating. the al-qaeda-affiliated al nusra front, but there are factions that were trained and equipped by the americans. we don't know whether they will pull out further south or this is quite a delicate moment for the syrian opposition. >> moving to iraq now forces there are saying they're tightening their grip on ramadi after capturing the city from the so-called islamic state in iraq and the levant. sweeping an clearing operations are under way on the northern front but isil said it has launched a counter offensive. we have reports now from northern iraq. >> more iraqis have been forced out of their homes in the fighting against the military. these civilians have been living
in ramadi. the military said that it rescued them. >> currently they're inside a secured complex in the center of ramadi. they freed more than 52 families who were used as human shields by isil. we thank god we freed them and now we're transferring them to safe locations. >> sunni fighters arrived in northern and eastern ramadi. it will help iraqi troops sweeping traps left by isil and secure their defensive position. what is not clear how many iraqi soldiers have been killed as isil remains active in some areas. media access to the city is limited. but many left are thank you to the soldiers who helped them. >> when the security was gone from anbar province, life was
dead. god bless the soldiers who came and rescued us from this place, from the beasts. they're beasts with no humanity. they have no islam. >> thousands of people have been displaced from hammadi. thousands wrot-- >> they also face the threat of suicide-bombers. >> turkish police have detained two men suspected of plotting a suicide-bomb attack on the new year eve celebration in the capital of ankara. the city's prosecutors say that the police seized this explosionsivexplosion device
with metal bolts and sticks all in a backpack. the suspects are said to be turkish nationals from the islamic state in iraq and the levant. the primary suspect arrest con attack which left three members of the same family dead is to be charged with murder in the coming days. the youngest of the family was an 18-month-old baby who died immediately in the attack in duma last july. his parents died from their wounds later in hospital. the only family member to survive was their son ahmed. the suspect's indictment is expected in five days. >> now voting is underway. initial community hopes will bring peace to the conflict-ridden nation. the country has been plagued by
violence since march of 2013 when largely muslim alliance of rebel groups overthrew the government, but that was followed by a brutal backlash by mostly christian melissa known as the anti-balaka. a tentative cease-fire was agreed to in 2014, but the fighting has displaced almost a million people. 30 candidates are vying to replace, she is not allowed to run. neither are her predecessors who was installed by the seleka. there were three front runners. well, this election has been peaceful. although there have been polling date delays.
tanya page brings us the latest. >> the police are here to make sure voters feel safe, security is tight. pk 5 in bangui is a muslim enclave. these people have felt under siege so the officers' presence feels reassuring. >> we want a president so we can live in peace. so we can walk and go wherever we want, so we can leave this neighborhood. we're stuck here like prisoners. if we get a new president we can go anywhere. we'll feel good. we'll sleep well. >> central africans are voting to start over. many have lived in fear since members of the mostly muslim seleka groups committed crimes. as they withdrew mostly christian took revenge on the
seleka. although things are better now the this man still lives in a camp. >> we've been overcome by what's happened. that's why i decided to come back to vote in my neighborhood so that muslims and christians can be together. >> last week a seleka leader dropped his call for an autonomous state. >> less than a month ago there is where there was a gun battle between hard liners within the community and u.n. peace keepers. the fight percent trying to intimidate people from voting. but we're told some of those who were shooting then are now voting. >> but there were problems. this man has been told he can't vote because he's not on the list. >> voting is a civic duty. i have to do it.
>> what these people want is a new governance. a new way of handle this country that i'm hearing is rule of law, democracy, that there were to be--they want leaders to be accountable. >> whoever wins has a huge task to mend divided communities and the country. there is hope that the mistrust and violence is behind them. >> ghana says it has fixed electricity shortages that have caused years of black outs. the announcement was made ahead
of elections next year. now there are reports that the u.s. has been spying on israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu's private communications. the wall street journey said that conversations were monitored. roslind jordan has more now from washington, d.c. >> the israeli government is suggesting that it may file a former complaint with the obama administration because of allegations published in the wall street journey that the white house has continued to spy o on the prime minister benjamin netanyahu and on other top israeli officials. the journey's story suggests that the obama administration continues to spy on the israeli government because of concerns that israel was going to try to find a way to he derail negotiations between the p5+1 and iran over that country's nuclear problem. even though the white house has now formerly condemned or
rejected the story, officials unnamed in the piece suggested they have to continue to do things like this for international security purposes. something that one official said that friends just don't do to each other. >> there have been demonstrations in the capital just days after the country reached a deal with yap over the issue of so-called comfort women. hundreds gathered outside of the japanese embassy in seoul demanding an apology. on monday th antibiotic gave --on monday abe gave an apology and will give $8.2 million. >> we want an apology and payment of reparation. >> as the el niño weather
been rescued by the iraqi military. government forces are strengthening their control of the city after recapturing it from isil. late voting is still under way in presidential and parliamentary elections in central african republic following delays caused by security concerns and religious violence. now after four days of storms the rain has finally stopped in the u.s. states of missouri and illinois. but the flood crisis is not over with water still expected to rise for at least another day. 15 people have been reported dead in missouri alone. the floodwater is moving down the mississippi river and the water level is expected to reach its peak there on thursday earlier we spoke with andy in valley park, missouri, one of the communities affected by the flooding.
>> we're just west. you can see the meramec river has overflowed it's banks. probably six or seven feet above the ground and starting to lap up on businesses here. there have been plenty of evacuations, dozens of evacuations of folks. they're stand bagging here. the governor has declared an emergency and brought in the national guard to help not only with the evacuation but the sandbagging and to secure the area. all of this water is coming to us from the west. the river to our west has now crested at a peak of about 35 feet. it is now 20 feet above flood stage, now all that water is heading east water towards the mirro mirrmac that will empty in the mississippi. it will crest at a record stage tonight or tomorrow morning, and all that water starts heading
down stream to major cities like memphis and new orleans. in the meantime we know that at least 13 people have died in missouri from the flooding, including five foreign soldiers who are here training with americans at an american base. their car was swept away on december 26th in the last day or so the last of the five bodies were found. we don't know their nationalities yet or their names, but they're among the 13 dead here in missouri. the governor here is telling residents to get out of their homes. the water is coming up. he doesn't want to see any more deaths, and egg telling folks not to tempt fate. >> the south american nations are experiencing worst flooding in half a century. more than a thousand people are now in temporary shelters after being forced to evacuate their homes in brazil on tuesday. more than 100,000 have been
displaced in total in those four countries. the uruguay river is now 11 meters above it's normal level. heavy rains have been linked to the el niño weather event at its strongest level recorded in this century. let's talk with the teresa, who is in the worst-hit part of argentina. tell us what is going on there, and how are people coping? >> we're now finding out that they're affected with lots of rain and flooding. in several areas of those countries. we just came back from concordia. that is dealing with thousands of people who have been evacuated, at least 10,000 people have been forced out of their homes by the water. we've seen lots of shoulders packed with people. many vulnerable children because
those effect ready mostly poor. in several shelters the government is trying to get water and food, dry mattresses 'cause most of the people have lost everything they own. the government is also getting ready to cope not only with thousands of evacuateys for many months, but we're told this whole phenomenon could last a couple of months. but. >> it's not only about dealing with the challenges but also anticipating the risks that are still to come in the coming months teresa. how are latin american governments preparing themselves for what could be a very difficult period? >> that's correct. and what we're seeing trying to get involved, going to areas that are going to be affected. governments of argentina has created a special committee to deal with this whole crisis. in bolivia they have given
millions of dollars to help. there is a red alert because of the heatwave. we're seeing a government getting ready for what is about to come. most experts that we've spoken to say that what needs to happen right away people need to be removed from areas that are close to rivers. to areas that could be easily flooded, this is a very big challenge because those are the areas, where most of the poor people go to listen. this is a big area, and they say the only way to mitigate the effects of what is happening is with infrastructure. >> thank you very much. bringing us all the latest from buenos aires. now indonesia court has thrown out a case against a plantation giant causing the thick smoke
that has blanketed the region for months. they have been burning forests to make room for its crops. we have more from sumatra island. >> ahead of the vet an environmental group stages a protest to remind everyone of what is at stake. indonesia's people and it's forests. a company was accused of starting fires last year that affected 20 hectares of land in the western island of sumatra. seeking $570 million in damages. the courts found the evidence lacking and ruled in favor of the company. >> why would the company needs to change its practices. it's been proven in court that the company has done everything in accordance with the law. >> it's a set back that only a few months ago suspended the
licenses of several countries over this year's forest fires. >> we're going to appeal this decision. it's not only to bring the suffering of the people of indonesia, but the dignity of this country straining relations with malaysia and singapore. this year's fires have caused flight cancellations and school closures. half a million people fell sick from respiratory illnesses. the world bank estimates this year's fires will cost more than $15 billion. some say small scale farmers who use slash and burn methods to clear land are to blame. others believe that it's plantation owners who use the tactics to clear fas vast tracks of land are responsible. but many believe that it is the
government of indonesia who allow the prom to continue. >> it is because of this, the company and the people will say oh, we can burn because they've already given us permission. it is not a good idea. i totally disagree and i'm very disappointed. >> the court's verdict is not the only thing that concerns environmental groups. >> they're worried that once the dry season starts in march that these fires can grow bigger. >> it has been an environmental disaster for india and the region, and it is unlikely to go away soon. >> the senior north korean official in charge of negotiating with south korea has been killed in a car crash.
>> very few details have been released about the circumstances that killed the official. >> the secretary of the central committee of the worker's party of korea died sadly. >> a secretary of ruling workers party was one of north korea's most senior officials. it was an experienced negotiator who played an important role in talks with south korea. in august he helped to reduce tensions between the two sides after an explosion injured two soldiers at the border of north korea. the south korean government has paid tribute to his skill and hard work during those talks.
>> he was according to state reports kim jong-un's revolutionary partner. but it brings questions as to what is really happening in north korea's governments. south korean officials say that kim jong-un has executed 70 officials, including his uncle, since becoming supreme leader. al jazeera. >> the french interior minister has condemned last week's violence in corsica while visiting the mediterranean island. protesters vandalized a muslim
prayer room on a housing stays where two firefighters were attacked a day earlier. jonah hull reports now. >> in a prolonged state of emergency, france is still feeling the after effects of the attacks in paris. the french island of corsica in the mediterranean has its own identity and harbors notions of separatism. it is the latest scene of racist violence since the attacks. >> this is a beautiful little island, but if things continue like this, people will be frightened from coming here. >> they would light a fire, luring firemen in, where they were attacked. hundreds of firemen were attacked in similar
circumstances but it has never happened here in corsica. in response an angry crowd ransacked a local muslim prayer room and demonstrators chanted racist slogans. >> we heard racist slogans such as arabs out. but that's not corsica. they shouted go home, but this is our home. >> the french government has been quick to respond. the interior minister here touring the scene and talking to residents. >> i want to express my utmost condemnation of those who committed racist and zenophobic acts that have no place on this island. >> napoleon was born on this island. corsica splittists have taken control of the island's legislature. >> we are as everyone knows
engaged in the struggle for the autonomy of corsica and the rights of the course can people. but this struggle is inseparable from a vision of openness, generosity, tolerance and humanity. >> whether the christmas violence here is connected to the separate identity that many corsicans feel or part of a wider reaction to the paris attacks, it's a sign of how far france has to go to reunite it's divided communities. jonah hull, al jazeera, corsica. >> the u.s. technology giant apple has agreed to pay $350 million to italy following a tax fraud investigation. italian authorities say that the company failed to pay over $960 million in tax. this was between 2008 and 2013. the move is part of an european effort to make multi national companies pay what they owe in
countries where they do business. apple has consistently rejected accusations that the company is avoiding paying tax. for more on everything that we're covering right here, the address, www.aljazeera.com. by the w-- lemme just-- i don't wanna paint this rosy picture. >> often described as neurotic and angst ridded, lewis reflects on his rise from early stand up comedian, to becoming a household name. >> i was broke for a long time. but i was still-- felt like a million bucks, broke, living in horrible places, come-- going into a club and seeing these famous comedians come over to me, go-- you have it, you're gonna make it!