>> syrian troops backed by russian airstrikes fight their way into a rebel-held town in the south. hello, you're watching al jazeera live from london. also coming up, allegations the united states has been spying on israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. in the initial african republic voters hope a new government will bring peace and stability. >> a state disaster is declared
in missouri where rivers are still rising. now we start with some breaking news this hour from syria where it is being reported that ten people have been killed and at least 25 others injured in three blasts in the northeast of the country. we'll bring you more information as we get it. but right now reports of three blasts in the northeast of the country, ten killed and some 25 people have been injured. now this the new offensive focuses on the strategic location on the main road collecting damascus to the southern cities. the assault was supported by the heavy russian aerial campaign so far in the south. it's part of the government's first major offensive in southern syria since russia
joined the fight in september. well, the observatory for human rights say that russia's strikes on syria hav, 792 of the dead, more than a third, were civilians, 180 were children. russia denied its air campaign is hitting carefullan. ash har quaraishi has been following the story and sent this report from turkey. the rebels say that despite the losses, they're regrouping, and they're planning towards a counter offensive to push the government troops out of the area.
for the rebels it has been a platform from where they could easily send weapons and fighters. so they provide a boost to the opposition. this is where he has always been concerned about rebel groups. now, there are different factions operating there. the al-qaeda affiliated al nusra front. but there are factions affiliated with the syrian army. some of them were trained and equipped by the americans. we don't know if they'll pull out further south or if they're trying create groups.
>> sweeping and clearing operations are under way on the northern front. but isil said it launched a counter offensive. we have reports from northern iraq. >> more iraqis have been forced out of their homes in the fighting with isil in the military. these civilians have been living under control in the central iraqi city of ramadi. the military said that it rescued them. >> hardly the forces of the anti-terrorism unit are inside the center of the ramadi. they freed more than 52 families who use province life used by human shields by the gangs of isil and we gave them first aid and food. we hank got we freed them and thank god they've been secured to safe locations. >> they will help iraqi troops in sweeping the area for traps left behind by isil. and secure their defensive positions. what is not clear is how many
iraqi soldiers and civilians have been killed in this latest offensive. media access is limited. but many are thankful to the soldiers who helped them. >> when the security was gone from anbar province, life was dead. even if they tell you that we're living this is not true. god bless the soldiers. not the officials but the soldiers who came and rescued us from this place. they are beasts with no humanity. they have no islam. >> thousands of people have been displaced by ramadi. houses, roads, electricity, water, basic services have been badly damaged. the iraqi forces threaten their position, isil fighters are said to launch their attacks in areas still under their control. and for iraqi forces in decision to creating buildings, they also face the threat of isil
suicide-bombers. al jazeera, erbil, northern iraq. >> turkish police have detained two men suspected of of a suicide-bomb attack in the capital of ankara. police see this explosive device which is fortified with ball bearings and metal sticks all placed inside of a backpack. the police say they also found an armed suicide vest and bomb making equipment. the suspect is said to be turkish nationals from the islamic state in iraq and the levant. >> now to the war in yemen and a child has been killed and 11 civilians injured by celling in taiz. these pictures show some of the tablety on houthi fighters. elsewhere in the city, 13 fight percent killed in clashes with the popular resistence forces.
and there has been a blast at a weapons depo in the district west of the capital. it was targeted by saudi-led coalition forces. now the prime minister suspect in west bank arson 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 douma last july. his parents died from their wounds later in hospital. the only family member to survive was their son ahmed. the suspects' indictment is expected in five days. now there are reports that the u.s. has been spying on israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. the wall street journal said that his conversations are monsterre monster--monitored during negotiations with iran. >> israel maritime file a former complaint with the obama administration because of
allegations published in the wall street journal imthat the white house continues to spy on prime minister benjamin netanyahu and other top israeli officials. the story suggests that the obama administration continued to spy on the israeli government because of concerns that israel was going to try to find a way to derail the negotiations between the p5+1 and iran over that country's nuclear program. even though the white house has now formerly condemned or rejected the story officials suggested that they had to continue doing things like this for national security purposes. one that one official said that friends don't don't do to each other.
>> from the capital of bangiu tanya paige reports. >> the police are here to make sure that voters stay safe. security is tight. pk 5 in bangui is an enclave. they say if they dared to leave the area they could be killed. >> 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 good president we can go anywhere. we'll feel good. we'll sleep well, and we won't hear gunshots any more. >> central africans are voting to start over. many have lived in fear since members of the mostly muslim seleka group attacked civilians as they fought their way to the capital. as they withdrew the mostly
christian militia took revenge. neighbors turn on neighbors. this man is christian. he left pk 5 when violence was at its worst. although things are better now he still living in a camp. >> as muslims we've been over come what has happened. that's why i decided to come back to vote in my neighborhood so that muslims and christians can be together. >> last week an excel can leader dropped his call for an autonomous state. security has been improving. >> less than a month ago this was where there was a gun battle between hard liners from within the community and u.s. peace keepers. the fight percent trying to intimidate people from voting. but now we're told some of those who were shooting then with now voting. but there were problems. this man has been told he can't vote because he's not on the list. >> vote something a civic duty. i have to do it and i cannot. so i'm not happy.
it can mean a lot. >> there were delays at polling stations. >> what these people want is a new governor nans, a new way of this country. but what i'm hear something equity, democracy. there were to be changes. >> ghana's government said that it's fixed its electricity supply shortages that have caused years of blackouts. they put out a statement saying that extra money would be spent to generate extra electricity. the power cuts have been a hot
political topic, especially those who suffer 24-hour blackouts. after four days of storms the rain has finally stopped in the u.s. state of missouri and illinois. at least 20 people have been reported dead with hundreds of homes evacuated. tom ackerman reports the waters of the mississippi river are still rising. >> the millions of people who live around the mississippi river valley are used to springtime flooding, but usually warm wet winter weather has stolen the water way and threatens to overwhelm the extensive network of levies. they called out national guard troops to help reinforce dams with sandbags. >> the amount of rain we received in some places in excess of a foot has caused river levels to rise rapidly but to go to places they've never been before. >> where the rivers meet near st. louis, a mandatory order was issued and local residents began leaving. large parts of the town were
partially underwater. major highways have been closed but motorist who is ignored warnings and tried to defy the flood waters accounted for most of the fatalities. the dangers are now shifting further down river. about 100 kilometers south of st. louis. forecasters say that the river will crest at just over 15 meters matching a record set in 1993 flood. the cost guard said it has activated orders, and when cold weather sets in again, some flooded areas will have to deal with ice. tom ackerman, al jazeera. >> well, brazil, argentina, uruguay, paraguay, are experiencing the worst flooding in a half century. people have been forced to leave their homes in brazil on
tuesday. more than 100,000 have been displaced in total across four countries. the uruguay river is now 11 meters above it's normal level. the heavy rains have been linked to the el niño weather event. more to come for you on al jazeera during this half our. >> i'm jonah hull on corsica where raisist violence has raised its head in the wake of the paris attacks. >> and italy takes a bite out of apple's profits as they settle a tax dispute.
>> welcome back. you're watching al jazeera. are reminder of the top stories now. in syria it's been reported that ten people have been killed at least 25 others injured in three suicide-bomb blasts in the northeast of the country at the border with turkey. that's the latest news that we're getting on three bomb blasts in syria in the northeast of the country. they have fought their way in a key rebel held area in the south of the country. after four days of severe storms the rain has stopped in the u.s. state of missouri, illinois, where 21 people have died since the weekend in widespread flooding. reportinflooding.
>> north carolina is reporting kim yang gon's death, new york's state run news agency announced his death in a brief statement. >> kim yang gon, died sadly in a traffic accident at 6:15, december 29th, at the age of 73. >> he was one of kim jong-un's most senior officials and played an important role in negotiations with south korea. he helped to ease tensions between the two sides after an explosion at the border of north korea. south korea noted his skill and hard work during those talks.
>> kim yang gon achieved meaningful agreement. >> kim yang gon was north korea's leader kim jong-un's closest comrade and solid revolutionary partner. but his death is raising questions about what is happening inside of north korea's secretive government. officials say that ki kim jong-un has executed many leaders including his uncle since taking position. it's not clear what this death will mean for north korea and it's relations with its neighbor. al jazeera. >> now, there have been demonstrations in the south can ran capital over the issue of comfort women. hundreds gathered out of the
japanese embassy in seoul demanding an apologize. comfort women were forced into sex slavery during the second world war. >> we urge to afternoon an official and direct apologize and pay reparations instead of apologizing by proxy or statement. >> india's capital city is introducing a new plan to clean up air pollution starting on january 1st. private cars will only be allowed into new delhi on alternate days depending on if their license plates end in odd or even numbers but they say residents must take responsibility for cleaning up their city. >> this scheme will only be successful once it becomes a very big movement when people want to do this from their hearts.
we do not have to do this because i'm saying it. we don't have to do it because it's being forced upon us by the government. we have to do it because we feel this is important for our lives and our health. >> the french interior minister has condemned last week's violence in corsica while training in the mediterranean island. >> in a pro longed state of emergency and with community relations badly damaged, france is still feeling the after effects of the attacks in paris. the french island of corsica in the mediterranean has its own identify and harbors notions of separatism. it's the latest scene of racist violence since the attacks. >> calm has to return. this is a beautiful little island, but if things continue like this people will be frightened to come here.
>> on christmas eve in this housing estate home to a large immigrant population hooded youths lit a fire luring firemen in who were then attacked. >> uniformed firemen are seen as symbols of the state and ambush situation situation like this one are common in france. hundreds from attacked last year 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. that's not like 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 or zenophobic acts that have no place on this eye. >> and napoleon was born on this island but it's not french nationalism that has taken hold here. instead, corsican separatists have recently gained control of the island's legislature. >> we are, as everyone knows, engaged in a struggle for the autonomy of corsica and recognition of the rights of the corsican people. but the struggle is inseparable from the 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 further 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
$2,350,000,000 to italy following a tax grade investigation. the move is part of an european effort to make multi national companies pay what they owe in countries where they do business. the e.u. has already ordered tar bucks and fiat to pay millions in back taxes to luxembourg and the netherlands. apple denies that it is avoiding paying tax. apple structures itself so it pays some of its tax in countries where rates are low. 60% of apple's profits are managed in ireland where it's european headquarters are located. ireland has one of the lowest level of corporation tax in the e.u. according to an u.s. nat report apple used such arrangement toss avoid paying $9 billion in u.s. taxes in just one year. tim cook rejects any notion that his company is acting illegally and says it pays every tax dollar owed. so could this have an impact
on apple's brand? joining us live from new york to discuss this dean critchfield. perceived tax dodging is an issue right now. does this deliver a blow to apple's brand to not have declared all of their earnings? >> it's huma--it's a huge deal and it does effect apple's glossy brand. it's not just a consumer brand, it's a trade brand, community brand, employ brand and environment and society brand. apple enjoys humongous power as a brand. but that includes
responsibilities, that means paying fair taxes in the countries you do business in. >> in terms of the affect on apple, you say this is a company made up of many different parts. it's not just a consumer brand. it's about investment, employeers and community. do you see the reaction the company might get. for example, a consumer that invested in apple products might be more put off by this than say investors who might be--well, they might accept the fact that apple will essentially try to keep its taxes down because it's better for the company profits and shareholders? >> well, i think you said it right there. the incentive is to satisfy investors and make as much profit as you can. none of us are against the idea of a company profiting. i just believe that they have done so well in all of these countries, and their businesses own billions of dollars from loyal commerce.
once the commerce, i'm sure there might be frustration and animosity to the fact that they have not paid a dime. >> in this case apple is getting a good deal from tax authorities in italy because they're paying roughly an authority of the corporation tax that they should have paid for that period. is that going to be viewed as a fair transparent settlement by most people? >> well, the most important thing is it is a settlement. major brands being corralled in and forced to do the right thing. let's be fair. do the right thing. so i think apple has a long way to go to clean its act up. but the only thing that could be on its side is the fact that complex inter connected issues, they require detailed and solutions that obviously take
time. that's something that could take place here for these things to finally happen and for the checks to be paid. >> how long is this going to take to resolve this. >> technically they're not doing anything wrong. where does that need to come from for there to be a bit more transparency? does it need to come from the shareholders ultimately? >> well, i think there has to be some requirement on their side of what they're expecting from this business to be totally up front, to be totally transparent, and to be totally accountable to its actions and what it does. that is not an one-way street. that's a two-way street. that's going to have some influence on their behavior. i think the big news here is there is the biggest brand in the world, it is doing over a billion dollars of revenue in italy, and only paid $30 million in taxes.
i mean, there is just a massive divide there. i think there are tensions between the poles of responsibility and greed. at the moment apple seems to be on the far right. >> dean, thank you very much. >> a preys into the philippines is in hot water with the country's roman catholic church. after riding a hover board at christmas eve mass. the reverend traveling up the ail singing a christmas song. it has proved to be a christmas hit on youtube. not such a hit with church officials. they're not too happy about this. they take a pretty dim you view, especially as they publicly try to promote a frugal lifestyle. the priest has apologized. a blue whale has been saved in chile after being stranded on the beach. many joined the effort to help the mammal that had been
beached. it pulled the whale to deeper waters, two boats were needed to tow the whale to safety. the operation took more than three hours. now they got there in the end. more on everything that we're covering right here, the address, www.aljazeera.com. it was quiet then. >> the land was wide. no dust. nothing but green grass, tall green grass, so pretty. it used to start freezing, beginning last part of october,